On Wednesday, we hit the one month mark until kickoff with Washington in Atlanta.
Yesterday the Coaches Poll got released, placing your Auburn Tigers inside the top ten to begin the 2018 season.
And today, fall camp begins on the Plains for Gus Malzahn’s sixth season leading the program.
Auburn’s coming off of a division title and a New Year’s Six bowl, but the Tigers came oh-so close to reaching the Playoff and the season ended on a sour note. Now, Auburn has an opportunity to erase that taste with a victory over the Huskies at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 1st.
However, there are some things to be ironed out before that time, and that’s where fall camp comes in. So what are the biggest questions and concerns, best hope for excitement, and top candidates to emerge as star players in 2018? We weigh in.
“With the way that Gus Malzahn usually takes a few games to find out how he wants to run his offense, and what we saw against Clemson early on last year, I’ve got equal concerns with the offensive line and running back situation. I know there’s talent up front, and you can make some pretty solid starting fives, but they won’t have the experience together that we saw from last season’s group in November. Behind them, and until we find the workhorse, I’ll be worried about the running backs. In our games last year without a healthy Kerryon Johnson (Clemson, Mercer, Georgia Pt. II, and UCF), we failed to crack four yards per carry. It’s no coincidence that we also lost three of those four games. Again, we’ve got talent at the position, and I’d love for Kam Martin, Boobie Whitlow, or Asa Martin to become the guy, but that has to develop in fall camp and in a hurry to start the season. Otherwise, the offense may be a little still if defenses can tee of on Jarrett Stidham.” — Jack Condon
“With all of the losses in the secondary, the two-deep is very up in the air. We know the JD’s (Javaris Davis, Jamel Dean, and Jeremiah Dinson) will be the top three guys back there, but there still remains an open safety job and the third corner spot. Davis will likely play the nickel in most 3 corner sets, but he and Dean will be the main starters at corner. There’s plenty of talent: Christian Tutt, Smoke Monday, and Daniel Thomas among others, but there’s playing time to be had in the Auburn secondary, and I want to know who is going to grab it.”- Ryan Sterritt
“As Auburn does every November, it’s got a brutal schedule. So how does Auburn handle Amen Corner this year? Last year, it nailed it to perfection getting wins over Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama to win the SEC West. Unlike last year, Auburn has to travel to Georgia and Alabama. Since Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012, the road team has won all 6 meetings so can Auburn finally break through at home against the Aggies? Then, the next week, the Tigers travel to Athens in what will be a raucous environment at Sanford Stadium. After the Liberty game, they have the trip to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama. The success of the season, as it normally does, will come down to what happens in November. Oh and we can finally break the Mercedes-Benz Stadium hex against Washington in the season opener. We only have 29 more days to find out the answer to that.” -Will McLaughlin
“The obvious questions surround offensive line and running back. If you solve the OL question though then it takes a little of the importance off the RB one. But I will actually go in a different direction since others have addressed those. I wanna see if this front 7 can live up to the hype. They’ve been somewhat overlooked in the past but not this year. Everyone includes them in the top 3 when ranking position groups which brings a different sort of pressure. Also, they haven’t finished the last 2 seasons. Some of that is due to offensive struggles but that’s especially when you need this group to take over a game. I wanna see this front 7 dominate from the first snap to the final one and prove they are the best in the country.” -AUNerd
“Alright I’ll go a different direction: just how dominant can this defensive line be? The lines of the last few years have been as talented as any in Auburn history, and while Sensei Mud has moved on, TD Moultry and Big Kat Bryant appear to be ready to step up and fill his shoes. Can this line generate havoc and turnovers to ease the offense into the season?” -AU_Jonesy
WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT?
“With the unknowns around him, it’s hard for me to say that Jarrett Stidham’s second year is the most exciting thing about the team heading into fall camp, so I’ve got to flip to the defensive side and say that the front seven as a whole is the answer. Our linebackers are getting some major pub as a group that will dominate, and with good reason. Under Kevin Steele, Deshaun Davis and Darrell Williams have become hard-hitting and sure tacklers, and if you add in Montavious Atkinson, then it’s a group full of experience and leadership. Davis should be prepped for an All-SEC season after leading Auburn in tackles last year, and as the emotional leader of the defense, he’s going to have a great senior year. In front of them, the line should also enjoy another dominant year. Marlon Davidson, Nick Coe, Derrick Brown, Dontavius Russell, and Andrew Williams should be flat out monsters and help keep opposing offenses down while the offense finds its footing. There’s not a whole lot more that we can find out about their talents in fall camp, so we just need to make sure that they stay healthy.” - Jack Condon
“Is peace of mind an acceptable answer for what I’m excited about? For the first time since 2014 (and the second time since... Brandon Cox?) Auburn knows what it’s doing at quarterback. Barring an act of God, Jarrett Stidham will be Auburn’s starting quartback, and there is no controversy around that. No, the talk radio hosts of the south will not be talking up Auburn’s QB controversy this year, and I’m loving it.” - Ryan Sterritt
“To get to the first game of the year! I think everyone would say that but in reality for me, what I’m most excited for is to see how will Auburn handle really high expectations. Yes, there were high expectations for the team last year but some big unknowns with how Jarrett Stidham would perform in the SEC. The other big question last year was would Gus Malzahn still be the head coach here this season. With both of those questions firmly answered, how will Auburn come back in 2018 after a horrible end to last season. I’m also excited to see who emerges amongst the running backs. I’m looking forward to seeing what Kam Martin can do with more opportunity to play but I’m really excited to see what freshmen “Boobie” Whitlow and Asa Martin can do as well. -Will McLaughlin
“I’m really excited to see how this offense attacks Washington week one. There will be questions surrounding AU’s ground game so I expect AU to lean more heavily on Jarrett Stidham. The truth is he struggled at times last year when asked to lead a big comeback or to carry the offensive load without Kerryon. This year, at least to start the season, the offense will run through him. We will go as far as he can take us. Excited to watch his development this season.” - AUNerd
“I want to see how Jarrett Stidham progresses. He was good enough to be the best quarterback in the SEC down the stretch last year. I’m excited to see him attempt to become even better. I think he’ll be asked to do a lot before one of the running backs really grabs the starting job, so I’m excited to see him chase Dameyune Craig’s single season record.” -AU_Jonesy
WHO WILL EMERGE OUT OF NOWHERE TO BECOME A STAR?
“‘The Punting Wonder from Down Under’ is going to be the guy that breaks out this year. We’re going to have a sassy, strong-legged guy that hopefully won’t have to do too much (c’mon, offense) dealing with the punting duties. Aidan Marshall did alright last year, but he wasn’t anything fancy. Now, Arryn Siposs can truly become a cult favorite and inspire corny sayings from Brad Nessler and Gary Danielson when he runs a fake punt and trucks over a guy in a reboot of his Aussie rules football days. I’m pumped.” - Jack Condon
“I don’t know if this would be out of nowhere, but I still am betting on Boobee to be Auburn’s next 1,000 yard rusher. You don’t get to call yourself Boobee if you aren’t a lot like Boobie Miles on the football field.” - Ryan Sterritt
“I would have gone with Boobee as well but I’ll give some love to our defense and go with T.D. Moultry. Moultry’s playing time and contributions rose late in his freshman year and he’ll have more opportunities this season to become Auburn’s next star on defense.” -Will McLaughlin
“Some good choices taken already so I will throw out three names I am watching: Smoke Monday, KJ Britt and Darius Slayton. I thought Monday might have been the most important recruiting battle Auburn won last cycle. Auburn not only lost some big time talent in guys like Tray Matthews, Stephen Roberts and Carlton Davis but they lost some great leaders and intimidators. Monday ain’t scared to talk crap and he can back it up. I think he ends up a starter before too long. As for Britt, I think he’s the next leader of the AU linebacking corps. No doubt the majority of the linebacker snaps will go to Deshaun Davis, Darrell Williams and Montavius Atkinson but don’t be surprised if Britt works his way into the rotation. Finally, I know Slayton sorta broke out last year but I think he has a chance to take a monster step in 2018. He flashed some special stuff on tape last year but lacked consistency and had some injury issues. If he can stay healthy, learn how to win more of those 50/50 balls and continue to develop as a route runner, I think he has a great shot at being the first AU WR in awhile to break that 1,000 yard barrier.” - AUNerd
“I’ll go a different direction and say Noah Igbinoghene at cornerback. The way he moved in the middle of spring and immediately moved into the two-deep is amazing. It really seems like he has impressed the coaching staff a great deal. I think he develops into a vital piece of the defense” -AU_Jonesy
We’re now getting into the nitty-gritty and the final month of desert-wandering before football returns. Get amped, War Eagle!