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Ask the AD

Sept. 22, 2011

If you have not had a chance to make it to Auburn this fall, this weekend would be a great time to visit.

The Auburn football team will play its first night game of the season against Florida Atlantic at 6 p.m. CT on Saturday. There is nothing quite like a night game at Jordan-Hare Stadium, and single-game tickets for Florida Atlantic are still available. Fans can purchase single-game tickets online at www.aubtix.com, by calling (855) AUB-2010 or on the day of the game at the west-side ticket windows of Jordan-Hare Stadium and the Auburn Arena Ticket Office.

Football isn't the only sport in action this weekend. Auburn volleyball hosts Alabama at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23 at the Student Act. If you have never attended a volleyball match at Auburn, I would encourage you to give it a try. It's a fast-moving sport and a great environment. Auburn is currently 6-6 with two key SEC match-ups at home this weekend. In addition to Alabama on Friday, first year Head Coach Rick Nold's team plays Ole Miss at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free.

Coach Karen Hoppa's soccer team is ranked No. 22 in the country with a 6-2 record. Soccer opens SEC play this weekend with a Friday match against Kentucky at 7:30 p.m. at the Auburn soccer field, followed by a Sunday match at home against Vanderbilt at 2:30 p.m. CT. Admission is free.

Tough test ahead for Auburn football

As we saw last Saturday, our football team will experience some growing pains this year. This season's schedule ranks among the toughest Auburn has ever played. In the month of October, we play at No. 12 South Carolina, at No. 14 Arkansas, at home against No. 15 Florida and at No. 2 LSU. Auburn has only played four ranked teams in a row three times in school history, and never with such a young and inexperienced team. The last time Auburn played four consecutive ranked teams was in 1987.

Our youth and inexperience is not an excuse. It is a fact. Consider the following:

• Auburn signed a total of 58 players in the 2007 and 2008 recruiting classes (the classes that are this year's fourth and fifth-year seniors). Only nine players from those two classes remain. Roughly half of the players who signed in 2007 and 2008 either never enrolled at Auburn, quit or transferred.

• Auburn has seven seniors on its two-deep depth chart. Auburn has four seniors on the offensive depth chart and only three on defense. We know from last year's success that a large class of fourth and fifth-year seniors is crucial for success. It will be several years before we reach those numbers again.

• By comparison, the first four teams that we play in October (South Carolina, Arkansas, Florida and LSU) have an average of 14 seniors on their two-deep depth chart.

Even though we face an enormous challenge the remainder of this season given our youth and inexperience, the future is bright for Auburn football. Coach Gene Chizik and his staff are recruiting the kind of student-athletes who qualify and who will make a difference as they gain experience. Fifty-six of the past 57 players who signed with Auburn the past two years in back-to-back Top 5 National classes qualified academically. That bodes well for the future.

You will not hear Coach Chizik talk about our youth, but those are the facts. That is the reality we face. The future is bright with 36 freshmen and sophomores on our depth chart, but this season will be a huge test. As I learned as a player, growing pains now will pay off later in terms of experience and wins.

As I shared with you before the season began, it is easy to be "All In" when things are going well. We need you to be "All In" all the time—this year and every year.

Thanks for being the best fans in the country. I look forward to seeing you in Auburn for our first night game of the season and at our other athletic events during this busy but exciting weekend.

God Bless and War Eagle!

Jay Jacobs
Director of Athletics