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College Football Preview: Best of the Rest: Auburn Tigers

29. Auburn Tigers Returning Starters: 18 Returning Star: RB Onterio McCalebb Key Loss: RB Michael Dyer
Player to Watch: LB Daren Bates

The Auburn Tigers just couldn't figure out who their quarterback was in 2011, the main reason that the team finished off a disappointing 8-5 mark. Now coach Gene Chizik hopes he can find one and contend in this tough SEC. That looks like it could be junior Clint Moseley. Moseley has a good accurate arm but sometimes his decision making is an issue. Sophomore Kiehl Frazier will give Moseley one heck of a race as he has the talent to become the next Cam Newton. He certainly has the arm and dual threat ability to do that. Chizik should rely heavily on the ground even without Michael Dyer, who transferred to Arkansas State. Onterio McCalebb though is just as good. McCalebb has some speed and is very elusive. Expect to see him dancing in the end zone 15 to 20 times this season. Expect Corey Grant and Tre Mason to gain a whole lot of touches also though. Whoever is quarterback has a lot of options to throw too. Senior Emory Blake is his top receiver returning. Other receivers include senior Travante Stallworth and DeAngelo Benton, both who have speed and good hands. Tight end Phillip Lutzenkirchen is a reliable target and has the size to have a truly dominant season. This offensive line is decent with the return of three starters including senior John Sullen and sophomores Chad Slade and Reese Dismukes. The defense had some major issues in 2011, ranking 94th in the nation against the rush. With 9 starters back (including much of the front seven) that could improve significantly. The line has two proven pass rushers in Corey Lemonier and Nosa Eguae. Lemonier has size and speed on the outside while Jeffrey Whitaker can wreck havoc inside. These linebackers could be very good with the return of Daren Bates and Jake Holland. Bates had 96 tackles in 2011 and needs to keep on improving if the Tigers are to contend. The secondary is okay with the returns of shutdown corners Chris Davis and T'Sharvan Bell. On special teams, Auburn has a ton of talent back including kicker Cody Parkey and punter Steven Clark.

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