Whitt: Great season hard to forget

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2005

Auburn University linebackers coach Joe Whitt couldn't help but remind the Butler County Auburn alumni club what he told the group a year ago about the upcoming football season.

Whitt got his chance to say "I told you so" Tuesday night when the Auburn club met again.

"Remember what I told you about Jason Campbell and the team last year," Whitt asked.

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Whitt had reason to remind the club of what he said after the Tigers finished an undefeated season with a Southeastern Conference championship in hand.

"Every season is different, and no two are a like," said Whitt, who is in his 25th season at Auburn said. "But it has been more difficult to look ahead to this upcoming season and put a great season behind us. And with good reason since this was the best team I've been around since I've been at Auburn."

Joining Whitt at the Auburn Butler County alumni club meeting was Apryl Tarrent Mullins, who is student and young alumni coordinator at Auburn, and Dr. Richard Brinker, who is dean of timber harvesting and forest engineering at Auburn.

While early indicators point to a subpar season for the Tigers after losing their first-round draft pick backfield to graduation, Whitt said that Auburn could be just as good as it was in 2004.

Whitt said the one question he is asked as he makes the alumni club tour is how good will Tigers quarterback Brandon Cox be.

"If Jason was returning the question would be could he do it again," Whitt said. "But we have to play each game. We won't know how good Cox is until he plays a game."

Whitt believes Cox can be productive for the Tigers as a first-year starter because of the supporting cast he will have blocking for him.

The Tigers return a majority of their offensive line led by All-American and Outland Trophy candidate Marcus McNeill.

"The guys up front is where it all starts," Whitt added.

Whitt continued on about the Tigers offense, but he couldn't help but bow his chest out when he talked about what the Auburn defense accomplished last season.

"We gave up one rushing touchdown in 11 regular-season games and allowed a little over 11 points per game," Whitt said. "You put that with a great offense, and that's the reason why we were 13-0."

Whitt said he didn't know if those type of statistics can be duplicated this season or not.

"I don't know how many games we are going to win, either," he said. "But I can tell you this football team will play hard and smart."

And the players are getting their degrees, too.

Last season there were six players who had their degree in hand when the season started. This season there will be 12 players on the field with their undergraduate degrees.

"They could have easily left, but they came back to play one more year," Whitt said. "That tells a lot about the character and type of guys we have here."