How a lot have the Tigers actually improved just lately?
RB Jarquez Hunter (Zach Bland/Auburn Tigers)
NEW YORK CITY — In the event you do a mailbag like this lengthy sufficient, you’ll begin to discover some themes.
One of many largest ones is, primarily, “OK, I’m studying and seeing and feeling this fashion about Auburn. However are these emotions legitimate? Ought to I actually be considering this?”
And actually will not be the very best phrase for a educated author to make use of, however I like utilizing it, as a result of it matches the theme of those questions.
Return to July, after I wrote the mailbag titled “How a lot hype ought to Auburn actually have for 2023?” Or how a couple of month later, after I wrote the mailbag titled “How a lot has Auburn actually improved this offseason?”
That brings us to in the present day’s mailbag, which is a day early to compensate for Auburn basketball’s back-to-back matchups in Brooklyn towards Notre Dame and both Saint Bonaventure or Oklahoma State.
On the soccer area, Auburn has reeled off three straight wins, with the most recent being an absolute beatdown of Arkansas that few noticed coming. You is perhaps enthusiastic about how a lot better the Tigers have regarded since their four-game dropping streak. However you may also be fascinated by how synthetic that enchancment is perhaps, contemplating the standard of opponent.
That’s the lead query of this week’s mailbag, and that’s why I’m beginning yet one more mailbag about this 2023 Auburn soccer staff with a “actually” query.
Elsewhere this week, we’ve got questions on Auburn’s extensive receivers, Payton Thorne, lure video games, future basketball opponents, Mexican restaurant energy rankings and much more.
I’m trying ahead to protecting these subsequent two basketball video games on the Barclays Heart in Brooklyn. Search for Observations from these on Friday and Saturday mornings on the normal time, adopted by some distant Observations and the recap podcast from the New Mexico State sport Sunday. (I couldn’t get a flight again to Auburn in time for the soccer sport, sadly.)
Thanks, as all the time, in your continued assist of The Auburn Observer. Let’s go.
Auburn soccer is enjoying higher now than it did a month or two in the past.
In the event you had been requested to show Auburn is enjoying higher by utilizing knowledge (fundamental or superior stats), what would you utilize?
One of many easiest methods to do that is to take a look at how Auburn did towards the unfold in its first 4 Energy 5 video games in comparison with its final 4. Vegas traces aren’t excellent, however they’re a superb measurement of expectation from sport to sport.
Within the first 4 video games, Auburn lined simply as soon as (Georgia) and completed -20 towards the unfold throughout the matchups. In its final 4 video games, Auburn has lined three straight instances and solely missed the Ole Miss sport by half of some extent, sitting at a large +51 towards the unfold. Take out the large destructive of the LSU sport and the large constructive of the Arkansas sport, and it’s nonetheless -1 vs. +10.5, so you may nonetheless see development.
One other approach to take a look at it’s how Auburn carried out in comparison with a staff’s common towards Energy 5 competitors on offense and protection. Defensively, Auburn held opponents to a mixed 144 yards beneath their yards per sport common of their first 4 matchups, and that quantity has gone up barely to 54.5 beneath during the last 4 video games.
The massive change, as you’ll anticipate, is on offense. Within the first 4 video games, Auburn was a mixed 493.2 yards beneath the averages. Now, it’s truly been 19.5 yards over the averages during the last 4 video games. Regardless that the opponents have clearly been simpler, Auburn is doing rather a lot higher on offense over the previous month — even whenever you take the energy of the matchups into consideration.
A extra superior approach to take a look at the expansion of the Tigers is in SP+ — which charges groups on a per-play foundation and weighs it for opponent energy.
After the fourth straight loss, Auburn was +4.1 in SP+, sitting at 27.7 on offense and 23.9 on protection. Now, after the three straight wins, Auburn is +8.7 in SP+, sitting at 28.6 on offense and 20.1 on protection. The superior numbers positively say the Tigers have improved on either side of the ball during the last month.
So, sure, Auburn has gained the Energy 5 video games it was alleged to win this season: Cal, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. Auburn hasn’t crushed a Energy 5 staff that’s at present on observe to make it to a bowl sport, and that shouldn’t be completely ignored.
However Auburn additionally was an underdog towards Arkansas and nonetheless gained by 38 factors, which says rather a lot concerning the development of the staff so far. The 4 losses have all been to groups the Tigers had been alleged to lose to, and solely one in every of them was by greater than a landing of the purpose unfold.
In 12 months 1 of a rebuilding course of, assembly expectations isn’t a horrible place to be. The trail to 6-4 at this level within the season shouldn’t have been stunning, and it in all probability may have been anticipated a little bit bit, given the imbalanced nature of Auburn’s SEC schedule. However the Tigers which have gained three straight aren’t the identical actual staff that struggled earlier this season.
That’s essential, as a result of Auburn has an opportunity to showcase simply how a lot it’s gotten higher subsequent Saturday in a house Iron Bowl — the place aggressive Tiger groups over time have discovered methods to drag off fairly spectacular outcomes.
When’s the final time Auburn fell for a lure sport/bought caught trying forward?