#17 Auburn Football 2019 Preview

Auburn Tigers
Overall Rank: #17
#6 SEC
 Auburn Logo
Auburn is the ultimate enigma of the SEC as they seem to surprise when they have lower expectations and disappoint when they come into a season with high expectations. Head Coach Gus Malzahn took over play calling in the Music City Bowl and the Tigers caught fire against Purdue as they scored 63 points and look liked a typical Gus Malzahn led offensive attack. The 2019 season brings the usual hot seat talk for Coach Malzahn so expect him to empty the tank with his offensive play calling in 2019.
2018 Record: 8-5, 3-5
2018 Bowl: Music City Bowl vs. Auburn (63--14 W)
Coach: Gus Malzahn, (53-27 at Auburn, 62-30 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kodi Burns, Kenny Dillingham
Defensive Coordinator: Kevin Steele, Travis Williams
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: JaTarvious Winslow, RB, 787 yards
Passing: Malik Willis, QB, 24 yards
Receiving: Seth Williams, WR, 534 yards
Tackles: Jeremiah Dinson, CB, 64
Sacks: Nick Coe, DE, 7.0
Interceptions: Three players tied with 2
Other Key Returnees:  DE Marlon Davidson, DT Derrick Brown, S Daniel Thomas, CB Javaris Davis, CB Noah Igbinoghene, WR Anthony Schwartz, WR Eli Stove, WR Will Hastings, LT Prince Tega Wanogho, K Anders Carlson
Key Losses: ILB Deshaun Davis, QB Jarrett Stidham, CB Jamel Dean, DT Dontavious Russell, FB Chandler Cox, DL Andrew Williams, LB Darrell Williams, WR Darius Slayton, WR Ryan Davis
The quarterback battle should be a good one in fall camp as Bo Nix and Joey Gatewood will battle it out for the starting job this fall. Both guys have plenty of talent which they will need in order to overcome the lack of experience. There is a nice stable of retuning running backs led by JaTarvious “Boobee” Whitlow, who rushed for 787 yards and six touchdowns last season. Kam Martin and Shaun Shivers will also be in the mix as both guys combined to run for 829 yards and four rushing touchdowns in 2018. Seth Williams will be counted on heavily along with Anthony Schwartz to build upon solid freshman seasons at wide receiver with the loss of Ryan Davis and Darius Slayton. Offensive line was a problem in 2019 and they were not able to generate any consistent play for the majority of the season. All five starters return, led by left tackle Prince Tega Wanogho, and they will need to protect the blind side of whomever wins the quarterback job this fall.
This will be the strength of this football team without question as Auburn will be in just about every game as a result of this defensive unit. Derrick Brown is wrecking ball at defensive tackle and is on track to move on to the NFL in 2020. Marlon Davidson is looking to post some big numbers coming off the edge, along with Nick Coe, to really make life miserable for opposing quarterbacks. The secondary will be another strength as Jeremiah Dinson and Daniel Thomas are a safety pairing that can stand up with any safety combination in all of college football. Javaris Davis will be back for his senior season and will be primed to step up and have a strong 2019 season. Linebacker will be a work in progress, but there should be enough depth led by K.J. Britt to come together a produce at a high level. Anders Carlson is back for his sophomore season and will need to be more consistent with making field goals. Arryn Spanos is back at punter and he averaged a very good 44.2 yards per punt.
The Bottom Line:
The season opener vs. Oregon in Arlington will be huge as it will be a great matchup between the Tigers defense and the Oregon offensive line and quarterback Justin Herbert. The rest of schedule is very streaky after a trip to Texas A&M and a home game against Mississippi State. The entire month of October is on the road at Florida, Arkansas, and LSU. Overall, the 2019 season will come down what type of production they get at quarterback and along the offensive line. Both have to produce at a high level if they are going to win nine games this season. Look for about seven to eight wins with a win over Oregon in the opener and one upset over an SEC contender.
Projected Bowl:  Outback Bowl
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 167.5 (68th in nation, 10th in conference)
Passing Offense: 222.5 (75, 9)
Total Offense: 389.9 (79, 11)
Scoring Offense: 30.9 (48, 8)
Rushing Defense: 135.9 (32, 6)
Pass Defense: 219.5 (58, 7)
Total Defense: 355.4 (37, 8)
Scoring Defense: 19.2 (14, 4)
Turnover Margin: +0.69 (16, 3)
Sacks: 2.92 (16, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.77 (39, 6)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#8 Derrick Brown
#43 Marion Davidson
#46 Nick Coe
Madness 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#24 Bo Nix
#27 Owen Pappoe
#72 Charles Moore
#116 Mark-Anthony Richards
#119 Keiondre Jones
#123 Jalen Handy
#141 Zion Puckett
#171 Derick Hall II