#11 Auburn Football 2017 Preview


Auburn Tigers


Overall Rank: #11

#3 SEC

Auburn had to battle for everything they got in 2016 as injuries wore down the Tigers towards the end of the season. The Georgia, Alabama, and Oklahoma games were prime examples of Auburn’s inability to keep quality defenses off balance. Head Coach Gus Malzahn did take a step to address this issue in the offseason with the hiring of Chip Lindsey to diversify the offensive attack. However, it remains to be seen if Malzahn will be able to make it through an entire season by acting as a CEO type of head coach and not interfere with the play calling in 2017.
2016 Record: 8-5, 5-3
2016 Bowl: Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma (L 19-35)
Coach: Gus Malzahn (35-18 at Auburn, 44-21 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Chip Lindsey
Defensive Coordinator: Kevin Steele
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kamryn Pettway, RB, 1,224 yards
Passing: Sean White, QB, 1,679 yards
Receiving: Ryan Davis, WR, 194yards
Tackles: Tray Matthews, S, 76
Sacks: Andrew Williams, DT, 3.0
Interceptions: Three players tied with 2
Other Key Returnees:  WR Darius Slayton, LT Darius James, C Austin Golson, RT Braden Smith, DT Dontavius Russell, DE Marlon Davidson, OLB Deshaun Davis, MLB Darrell Williams, CB Carlton Davis, K Daniel Carlson, DT Derrick Brown, DT/DE Byron Cowart
Key Losses:  DT Montravius Adams, OLB Carl Lawson, S Rudy Ford, CB Josh Holsey, DL Devaroe Lawrence, OT Robert Leff, WR Tony Stevens, DL Maurice Swain
Jarrett Stidham is the frontrunner for the starting quarterback position in 2017 for the Tigers. Stidham performed well when he played for Baylor back in 2015, throwing 12 touchdown passes with only two interceptions. Sean White will be a nice insurance policy to have as the backup quarterback. When healthy in 2016, White managed games well and gave Auburn chances to win on a regular basis. Kamryn Pettway is going to be the workhorse at running back and will be joined by Kerryon Johnson, who is a speed demon. This combination of power and speed, along with an experienced offensive line, should set the Tigers up to be a very balanced offensive attack that can average over 500 yards a game.
Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele made a big impact last season as the Tigers were very stout against the run and found a way to keep the team in games when the offense struggled. The ability to dominate the line of scrimmage along the defensive front will go a long way in dictating how much of a reloading project Steele will have in 2017. Marlon Davidson will anchor a deep and talented defensive line unit that will need to generate more pressure on the quarterback this season. Deshaun Davis and Tre’ Williams will anchor the linebacker group and if they can find a way to just stay consistent and lead the rest of the defense then Auburn will be in great shape. In the secondary, Tray Matthews, Stephen Roberts, and Carlton Davis will need to be ballhawks in the secondary to set up short field opportunities for the offense.
The Bottom Line:
Daniel Carlson should be one of the favorites for the Lou Groza Award this season, which is awarded to the top kicker in college football. Carlson made 28 of 32 field goal attempts and has a very strong leg. The schedule is full of interesting challenges as a trip to Clemson is on tap for week two on September 9th. It will be fascinating to see how a quarterback like Stidham responds to playing in a hostile environment like Clemson as it has tested the best of the best in college football in recent years. A three game road trip starting on October 14th at LSU is going to be the difference maker in how successful this season will be. If the Tigers can go 2-1 at LSU, Arkansas, and Texas A&M then they should be in position to play Alabama in the Iron Bowl with SEC West Division title on the line. In the end, Auburn should be in the nine to ten win range if they stay healthier this season.
Projected Bowl: Cotton Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 271.3 (6th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 169.5 (112, 14)
Total Offense: 440.8 (43, 6)
Scoring Offense: 31.2 (49, 6)
Rushing Defense: 132.8 (27, 3)
Pass Defense: 229.2 (67, 9)
Total Defense: 361.9 (28, 5)
Scoring Defense: 17.1 (7, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.23 (42, 6)
Sacks: 1.92 (75, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 1.46 (27, 3)
Madness 2018 NFL Draft Rankings:
#73 Byron Cowart
Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#29      Calvin Ashley
#121    Devan Barrett
#132    Tadarian Moultry
#143    Markaviest Bryant
#165    K.J. Britt
#191    Malcolm Askew
#232    Alaric Williams