Auburn was one of two SEC teams in 2012 that failed to win a conference game. The Tigers went from winning the National Championship to winning just three games over the span of only two years. Because of that, Gene Chizik was dismissed and the Tigers are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle again as they bring in former OC Gus Malzhan to try and right the ship.
Malzahn has filled out the staff with some SEC experience in Ellis Johnson (DC), Rodney Garner and Rhett Lashlee (OC). The staff will have their work cut out for them as they search for a quarterback and try to piece this team back together after a 2012 that was rough on and off the field.
Scot Loeffler's one year run as OC was a failure as Chizik tried to move the team from a spread offense to a more pro-style but no quarterback stepped up to take the reigns. QBs Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace will return but I would bet on JUCO commitment Nick Marshall to be the guy that is given the ball in 2013. Marshall is a dual-threat QB that originally signed with Georgia out of High School (as a DB) but was kicked off the team due to some pretty serious issues. Comparisons to Cam Newton are tough to live up to but there are a lot of similarities and Malzahn will look for Marshall to have a big impact and his success will make or break this team this fall.
Ellis Johnson had a miserable year as head coach for Southern Miss (failed to win a game) but he was always a solid DC for South Carolina. The good news for Ellis is that he has talent on defense but they will lose their leading tackler (Darren Bates) and their best player (Corey Lemioner). The defense needs to get tougher as they folded down the stretch the past two years in some key games.
Auburn will definitely be better this coming season than they were in 2012 but I wouldn't look for a complete turnaround. Auburn fans should consider getting back to a bowl game a success and if Nick Marshall takes off they could be looking at more.