WSU vs. Auburn: Previewing the Tigers with Bill Connelly

USA TODAY Sports

Can the Cougs really expect to go to SEC country and come back with a win against a team that struggled last season?

We're square in the middle of the long metaphorical winter that is the post-spring practice/pre-fall camp window, and that means it's offseason preview season! While many of these stories are simply uninformed filler, one of the very best in the business at these things is SB Nation's own Bill Connelly. He previews every team in FBS -- no joke, he starts in February -- and he tackled Auburn today.

This season opener against the Tigers is sort of fascinating to me. Last year's blind optimism that led many of us to think WSU could be competitive in the season opener against BYU came crashing down in a hurry, leading to a more guarded assessment of the Cougs' chances this time around -- despite the fact that Auburn was pretty awful last year.

There's a ton of really cool stuff in there, but this is the part that caught my eye:

I would really like to blame most of Gene Chizik's failures on strange schematic decision-making and poor development. But a large portion of Auburn's problem in 2012 was pure youth. There was just too much of it to succeed, and it was particularly evident in Auburn's home-road splits. It stands to reason that more experienced teams are able to avoid terrible drop-offs on the road. Auburn could not.

Adj. Points Per Game (at home/neutral): Opponent 29.0, Auburn 27.9 (minus-1.1)
Adj. Points Per Game (on the road): Opponent 32.1, Auburn 18.4 (minus-13.7)

Now, Auburn was still mediocre at best, even at home. A negative average margin in Adj. Points means you were worse than an average team. But Auburn was also one of the worst teams in the country on the road. That points to poor experience and poor leadership, issues that could begin to naturally rectify themselves in 2013.

Well, that's not exactly what we want to hear! But I guess the good news is that WSU was incredibly young a year ago, too, so I guess that's something?

Go ahead and read the preview, then come back and talk about anything else that you noticed.

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