#6 Auburn Football 2014 Preview

Auburn Tigers

Overall Rank: #6
#2 SEC

Auburn Team Page#6 Auburn Football 2014 PreviewBuy Auburn Football Tickets

It wasn’t long ago that Auburn was on top of the college football world when Cam Newton was the favorite son of War Eagle.  Just two years later, the Tigers went winless in the SEC and Gene Chizik lost his job.  Enter Gus Malzahn, beloved offensive mind, as head coach in 2013.  In his first season, he led the Tigers to seven conference wins and a trip to the national championship game against eventual champion Florida State.  It was a remarkable turnaround for a team that had some of its lowest moments in recent memory.  The 2014 season should be another strong one for Malzahn’s Tigers.

2013 Record: 12-2, 8-1
2013 Bowl: BCS National Championship vs. Florida State (L 31-34)
Coach: Gus Malzahn (12-2 at Auburn, 21-5 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Rhett Lashlee
Defensive Coordinator: Ellis Johnson

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Nick Marshall, QB, 1,068 yards
Passing: Nick Marshall, QB, 1,976 yards
Receiving: Sammie Coates, WR, 902 yards
Tackles: Cassanova McKinzy, LB, 75
Sacks: Carl Lawson, DE, 4.0
Interceptions: Robenson Therezie, DB, 4

Other Key Returnees: RB Corey Grant, OT Avery Young, C Reese Dismukes, WR Ricardo Louis, DE LaDarius Owens, DT Gabe Wright, CB Jonathon Mincy, S Jermaine Whitehead

Key Losses: RB Tre Mason, DE Dee Ford, DB Chris Davis

This team is built on the run and will continue to with that philosophy this year based on the talent that that is still on this roster.  The Tigers lose Tre Mason, which is a big blow to a rushing attack that ranked first in the nation last year (over 325 yards per game).  Quarterback Nick Marshall is the perfect signal-caller for an offense like this.  He has great speed and an ability to cut that not many players have.  Marshall is not an elite passer, but he has not needed to be.  Even still, he completed 60% of his passes and threw 20 touchdowns.  More importantly, he only threw eight interceptions all year.  He may not be a prototypical NFL quarterback, but Marshall is a very efficient quarterback.  They ran an option offense better than just about everybody.  Their offensive line was top notch.  They opened gaping holes and kept defenders away from the backfield.  They were able to score nearly 40 points per game.  This team should carry the same offensive firepower this coming season.
Auburn’s defense was among the worst in the SEC last season.  It did not seem to jeopardize them too often, but still it is an area where the Tigers could stand to beef things up a bit.  For as great as they were running the ball offensively, they could not stop many rushers on the other side of the ball.  Their pass defense was below average, but not terrible.  The trouble is that the combination of both their defensive units allowed for over 420 yards per game.  That was third worst in the conference.  They lose valuable defenders in Dee Ford and Chris Davis, who were also a dynamo on special teams, and they will be difficult to replace.  They may want to try and work in a bit more of a passing game as well.  If Marshall can muster more than 200 yards per game through the air, this offense will be even better than it was last year.   

The Bottom Line:
Auburn is going to be in the mix again this season.  Even though Tre Mason is gone from their dynamic offense, the Tigers should be able to dominate defenses with the scheme and the athleticism of Marshall.  Outside of Mason, every other major skill position stat leader returns on offense.  Defensively, they could continue to struggle a bit, but it would be hard to get much worse.  Besides, if they can keep scoring like they did in 2013, their defense will not have to be outstanding.  The Tigers are primed for another “BCS” bowl berth.  In Gus they trust.

Projected Bowl: Orange Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 328.3 (1st in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 173.0 (106, 11)
Total Offense: 501.3 (11, 2)
Scoring Offense: 39.5 (12, 2)
Rushing Defense: 162.1 (62, 10)
Pass Defense: 126.9 (63, 9)
Total Defense: 420.7 (86, 12)
Scoring Defense: 24.7 (48, 9)
Turnover Margin: 0.0 (61, 9)
Sacks: 2.29 (46, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.29 (22, 3)

Madness 2015 NFL Draft Rankings:
#74 Reese Dismukes

Madness 2014 Recruit Rankings:
#15 Racean Thomas
#33 Tre Williams
#64 Braden Smith
#78 Sean White
#91 Stephen Roberts
#93 Kalvaraz Bessent
#189 Justin Thornton


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