ESPN SEC pundit Paul Finebaum is jumping off the Auburn bandwagon.
Following the Tigers’ 14-6 loss at Clemson, Finebaum said that he thinks the team is “in trouble” during an appearance on SportsCenter alongside Booger MacFarland early Sunday morning.
“I’m not quite as optimistic as you are,” Finebaum said to MacFarland. “You may be taking pixie dust for breakfast, but I’m not. I was mortified by the performance. I just didn’t understand it. Gus Malzahn, after talking about bringing [offensive coordinator] Chip Lindsey in, was… Gus Malzahn. And that’s a problem because Auburn fans like Gus Malzahn as a head coach, they don’t like him as the offensive coordinator. To me, it looked very similar. This a team that has to go to LSU in a couple of weeks and has to deal with Georgia and Alabama. The defensive line may be great, by the way, Clemson’s defensive lineman may have made [Auburn QB Jarrett] Stidham look stupid. It’s not Auburn’s defense that is the problem. It’s the same old problem– red zone mistakes. We’ve been watching this for last four years under Gus Malzahn.”
Wow, harsh words from the south’s favorite on-air phone operator. Finebaum did have a point about Auburn’s offensive struggles, though, as the team failed to capitalize on multiple early red zone possessions and allowed 10-plus sacks during Saturday’s loss.
Still, MacFarland was much more optimistic about the Tigers’ chances to remain in national contention than his colleague.
“I think Auburn is still in a good spot,” MacFarland said. “Alabama doesn’t have a defensive line like Clemson, guys. So we can say, or we can try to do deduce that ‘If Clemson did this then that’s what LSU would do.’ But Clemson is better than [LSU and] Alabama up front. Clemson and Ohio State are the best [defensive] fronts in the country and you could throw N.C. State in there, but those are the only ones. Alabama doesn’t have a defensive front like that, so from the SEC standpoint, I think Auburn is still in good shape. They have to figure out a way to protect the passer and get Jarrett Stidham going. We know they can run the football with Kam Pettway and Kerryon Johson, but can you open the offense up? The wide receivers have to step up. They have to throw the ball down the field. If they don’t, Gus Malzahn is going to be on the hot seat and he’s going to have to deal with [Paul Finebaum] at the end of the year taking his job.”
We’ll just have to see how the remainder of Auburn’s season plays out.
[H/T SEC Country]