Monday, July 17, 2017
Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Auburn Tigers
The Tigers, since their last national title run, have slipped a good deal in the SEC West, and are trying to get back on track. When you look at the changes they have made,and who they have brought in as far as talent is concerned, this could be their window to get closer to Alabama in the West, and to get back into top 10 consideration nationally. With that said, will Auburn have enough in the tank to actually push Alabama sooner than later?
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Jarrett Stidham is probably one of the most anticipated transfers in the nation this fall, as he heads to the Plains to take over at QB. He is expected to give the Tigers their best passer since Cam Newton left for the NFL. He sat out last season, but had a very nice run as a freshman at Baylor in 2015, when he passed for 1265 yards and 12 scores against just two INTs in 10 games. He will be primarily a passer in this offense, so expect a different look with him at the trigger spot. Sean White, who was solid at times last fall, is the backup.
The Tigers will also boast a rock solid one-two punch at RB, as Kamryn Pettway returns along with Kerryon Johnson. Pettway rushed for 1224 yards and seven scores, while averaging 5.86 yards per carry. Johnson added another 895 yards and 11 scores on the season. Look for Cam Martin and Stanton Truitt to add depth and a big play capability.
Three seniors return on the line, including at both tackles in Darius James and Braden Smith. Austin Golson will be expected to provide senior leadership from the Center position.
Daniel Carlson had one of the great seasons in Auburn PK history, as he hit 28/32 FG attempts. He returns for his senior year.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
One has to understand the nature of the QB instability that Auburn has had the last few seasons to not beat up to badly on the receiver corps, but this group has a long way to go in 2017. Luckil, they will have Stidham throwing the football, so more opportunities should arise. Only three receivers total caught as many as 20 passes last season.
Youth is the word of the day at the Guard spots on the line, as a pair of sophomores will be starting in Marquel Harrell and Mike Horton.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
The Tigers will return with a 3-3-5 look this season. There were serious losses on the line after the season ended, but Marlon Davidson returns at DE after collecting 6.5 TFLs last season as a freshman.
Tre' Williams and DeShaun Davis both return at LB, and will provide some leadership. Williams finished with 67 tackles last season, while Davis finished right behind him with 63 tackles.
The CBs may be one of the best starting combos coming back this year in the nation with 17 combined PBUs between Javaris Davis and Carlton Davis. Safety Tray Matthews led the team with 76 tackles last season, and will be back. Stephen Roberts also returns at Safety after recording 57 tackles last fall.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
As I said earlier, the Tigers took some serious losses on the line with Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams both departing. Davidson returning is a serious pick up, but the Tigers are rebooting the other two spots with Dontavious Russell and Andrew Williams. They may very well have big seasons, but they need to prove themselves at this point. Depth is thin behind them.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 Georgia Southern, 9/9 at Clemson, 9/16 Mercer, 9/23 at Missouri, 9/30 Mississippi State, 10/7 Ole Miss, 10/14 at LSU, 10/21 at Arkansas, 11/4 at Texas A&M, 11/11 Georgia, 11/18 UL-Monroe, 11/25 Alabama
This could be a big season for Auburn, and they should be favored to beat Clemson this go around, even with the game being played on the road. If the Tigers get through Clemson, they could get all the way to near the end of October before they would face another serious threat in the trip to Baton Rouge. There is talent on the roster, and the pick up of Stidham helps big time on offense, as the Tigers will finally have a multidimensional look once again. Will Auburn have enough to push Alabama out as the king of the SEC in 2017? Probably not, but returning to a 10 win season is not out of the question.