Auburn opens preseason camp Wednesday with a rather large chip attached to its shoulder and a lingering question that probably needs to be answered sooner rather than later.
The defending national champion Tigers have been picked as low as fifth in the Western Division. They’re an afterthought in the preseason SEC championship chatter, and some have suggested that merely making it to a bowl game would be a decent season given everybody they lost from last season’s 14-0 team.
Keep in mind that no defending national champion has ever won fewer than eight games since the origin of the BCS in 1998, so forgive the Tigers if they feel slapped in the face any time they get wind of such modest expectations.
“It’s nothing new to us. How many people had us winning the national championship last year?” said Auburn sophomore defensive end Nosa Eguae, one of only six players returning who started in the BCS National Championship Game last season.
“We lost a lot of good players, but we have a lot of good players back who would have been starting for a lot of teams last year. We know what people are saying about us. It’s the reason our coaches tell us all the time that all of our good players are gone. We’ve heard it all spring and all summer.
“We’re ready to go out there and shock some people … again.”
It would be a shock if the Tigers didn’t make it a point to settle on a starting quarterback in the first week or two of practice.
Trotter is the only one of the three who’s ever thrown a pass in a college game, but he’s never been in there with the game on the line, either.
Plus, there’s the added pressure of following in the footsteps of Cam Newton, who had one of the greatest seasons for a quarterback in SEC history last year.
Trotter, who earned his undergraduate degree in communications on Tuesday, looks at it more as an opportunity he’s been working toward and waiting on than he does in trying to live up to any standards Newton might have set.
“I’m the oldest guy we’ve got and been around the longest,” Trotter said. “Those things aren’t the deciding factor, but they do help.”