Auburn’s widespread youth, inexperience shown in loss
by Charles Bennett
cbennett@annistonstar.com
Nov 15, 2011 | 3707 views |  0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AUBURN — Auburn’s coaches and players would never use youth as an excuse, but Saturday’s 45-7 loss to Georgia made it abundantly clear that some of the Tigers’ problems can only be cured with time and experience.

Another year in the weight room. Another offseason of conditioning and mental preparation.

On a team where 51 of 79 scholarship players are underclassmen, there’s no short-term solution, no magic pill to get the Tigers where they’d like to be.

“I don’t think there is any question that us as coaches, we have to be mindful that there is still a lot of youth on our whole team,” said Auburn coach Gene Chizik. “There are a lot of growing pains that go with that. We understand that.”

Auburn is 6-4, 4-3 in the SEC, heading into Saturday’s non-conference game with Samford. The Tigers then close out the season the following week at home in the Iron Bowl showdown with Alabama.

The players talk of turning the page and moving on, but Saturday’s emphatic loss to the Bulldogs may be harder to shake than any of Auburn’s previous losses.

“This week is really big because of going through that tough situation,” said Auburn quarterback Clint Moseley. “It was tough for our team. People will say bad things about me. People will make excuses for me. That doesn’t help me at all.”

When it comes to lack of experience for Auburn, Moseley may well be the poster child. A redshirt sophomore, Saturday’s game at Georgia was Moseley’s third career start.

By contrast, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, also a redshirt sophomore, was making his 23rd career start for the Bulldogs.

“I’m going to learn a lot as far as being a quarterback from this,” Moseley said. “This is going to help me out a lot.”

The Tigers’ season has been one of ups and downs, which was to be expected given Auburn’s personnel losses off last year’s national championship team.

“One of the things that comes with the youth of a football team is some days and some weeks you really see glimmers of it being a great direction we are heading,” Chizik said. “Some weeks you look at it and say ‘Wow, how did we take a step back in some areas?’ That’s kind of where we are at as a football team.”

Chizik was asked how he thought this season would impact recruiting.

“In this league and the difficultly that goes with playing in this league, us playing for our seventh win Saturday is different than us playing for our fourth,” Chizik said. “I think there have been a lot of encouraging things this year, there’s no question about that.”

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