Quick now... what are the three phases of the game of football? Offense, defense, and - the kicking game. It's likely Auburn fans will come to know that often-forgotten phase - kicking game - very well this year.
Here's why: As you probably know, Auburn lost 90 percent of its offense - with Ben Leard graduating and Rudi Johnson, Heath Evans and Ronney Daniels leaving early. No wonder the Tigers are picked in the 2nd division in everybody's preseason ratings.
But before you Auburn fans despair, it's worthwhile to remember that a lot of games have been won with defense and kicking. And that appears to be the strategy this year. Damon Duval may be the top Tiger. He's a talented, experienced veteran. His strong leg, both punting and kicking extra points and field goals, will be vital to Auburn's success.
The other vital phase is defense. Auburn has recruited and coached well in this area. They'll be two-deep at every position, provided the injury bug stays away. Tuberville has repeatedly praised the defense. They should keep Auburn in games, particularly early in the year while the offense finds itself.
And speaking of offense, Carnell "Cadillac" Williams has gotten most of the media attention as a replacement for Rudi Johnson. But don't count out several good ball-carriers, who are bigger and stronger than the freshmen. Ronnie Brown, Casinious Moore and Chris Butler to name three.
Another key player might be tight end Robert Johnson. If he's healthy, with Lorenzo Diamond on the other side, and a couple of promising youngsters, Auburn could live in that two tight end offense that won them the West division title last year.
So remember, defense and kicking early, and if the offense develops in time for that early 3-week road swing, Auburn could surprise everybody again this year. This is Phil Snow skywriting the Southeastern Conference.