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After trying to adapt to the SEC and bringing in seasoned SEC veterans like Derek Mason and Mike Bobo, Harsin is going back to the girl who brought him to the dance. That means promoting the coaches he brought with him from Boise State. It also helps to have personnel in place we know Harsin trusts and has had success with in the past. After a season in the SEC, his Boise boys should know the ins and outs of the SEC. At the very least, Auburn has parted ways with two unpopular coordinators from last season.
Bigsby was one of the bright spots for the Tigers last year and getting him back for 2022 was one of the top priorities for Harsin in the offseason. Bigsby comes back as a Top 5 running back rated by Pro Football Focus and he looks to anchor the offense in the wake of Bo Nix’s absence. Bigsby rushed for one yard shy of 1100 yards last season and 10 touchdowns. Based on what Harsin has said in the offseason, that could be even more this season. The question will be how well the offensive line (a Top 10 offensive line, but which is better in pass protection than the run game) can work in front of Bigsby and if Auburn relies on their best player too much throughout the season.
To say it was a shock that Bo Nix, Mr. Auburn, would leave in the transfer portal is an understatement. The second-generation Auburn quarterback decided to take his talents to the Pacific Northwest, leaving T.J. Finley as the heir apparent. But, that wasn’t for long. Auburn got Texas A&M transfer Zach Calzada in to compete with Finley for the starting position. After missing spring practice with an injury, it appears Calzada is the man to beat for the starting position this fall. If he can find consistency in his game and show up like he did in the Aggie’s defeat of Alabama last year, Auburn shouldn’t lose as much talent at the position as we once believed.
Jeff Schmedding steps into the role held by Derek Mason last season. Schmedding came with Harsin from Boise State where he was the defensive coordinator from 2019-2020. During that time, Boise State was in the Top 25 nationally in scoring defense and in the Top 15 in sacks nationally. That could be what the doctor ordered after fans became disillusioned with Derek Mason in his lone season with the Tigers.
To say the coaching staff will look different in Harsin’s second year is putting it mildly. Harsin will have two new, but not unfamiliar, coordinators to work with. Like Schmedding, Eric Kiesau worked with Harsin in Boise. Kiesau also has experience as a coordinator at Colorado and Kansas. He also served as an offensive analyst for Nick Saban. Kiesau came to the job through a series of unfortunate events. He began last season as an offensive analyst for the Tigers. He was then promoted to wide receivers coach after Harsin abruptly fired Cornelius Williams. After Harsin fired Mike Bobo, he then hired Austin Davis, who left the program after six weeks. (Greg McElroy reported that Harsin was going to fire him if he didn’t resign.) So, once all of that had cleared, Harsin hired Kiesau as offensive coordinator. It’s hard to tell if from Kiesau’s past (he has coached on some not-very-good teams) if he’s the man for the job, but if he’s not, Harsin has proven that he isn’t afraid to pull the trigger on firing a coordinator.