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An Offensive Look Ahead

Who will be slinging it for the Tigers, in 2019?
(Photo by Acid Reign)

     War Eagle, everybody! College football has mercifully drawn to a close, and all we can do now is look to the future. However, basketball has really geared up the past week, with Auburn pulling away from Georgia in Auburn Arena last weekend and then bombing Texas A&M by 19 points in its own gym a couple of days ago. The Big Blue of Kentucky come visiting Saturday afternoon at 3:00 PM. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.

     Offensive questions have become the norm in recent years as Auburn has seen its share of shaky quarterbacking and a revolving door of running backs. Several major pieces of the offense from the past couple of seasons have departed, and there are some holes to fill. Leaving early for the NFL draft are quarterback Jarrett Stidham and receiver Darius Slayton. That pair hooked up for some dynamite plays the past couple of years. A 4-year starter at H-back, Chandler Cox, has exhausted his eligibility as well.

     The past couple of years, Auburn’s offensive success has mirrored the play of the offensive line. When the line misses assignments or gets whipped, Auburn’s offense goes nowhere. When the line gels, records can be set such as Auburn’s 63-point outburst in the Music City Bowl a few weeks ago. On the line, the only departing seniors are Tucker Brown and Ryan Meneely. All the guys that started games last season return, and frankly, this unit really came together late in the season. I am eager to see what another year of conditioning and work does for them. Auburn isn’t as deep on the line as it has been in the past decade, but I expect some major position battles this spring and summer.

     Center Kaleb Kim will be a returning senior, and Nick Brahms will be a sophomore. I expect a battle there as Brahms was thrown into the fire last year a little too early. Senior guards Mike Horton and Marquell Harrell return, but there are some good sophomores behind them, looking to take away a starting spot. Calvin Ashley and Austin Troxell can both play inside or out. At left tackle, senior Prince Tega Wanagho passed on an NFL opportunity to return. On the right side, Jack Driscoll should be back. I had mistakenly pegged him as a departing senior in 2018, but I was wrong. I’m glad I fact-checked with the official Auburn roster! Again, Ashley and Troxell are the biggest threats behind Wanagho and Driscoll.

     Despite the loss of Darius Slayton and Ryan Davis, Auburn returns a lot of talent at the receiver spots. I figure that sophomore Seth Williams will lock down one starting spot. He took over about midseason last year, was Auburn’s most consistent set of hands, and has great size and speed. Auburn gets veterans Eli Stove and Will Hastings back from injury, and they’ll be pressed by younger talent, including Anthony Schwartz, Shedrick Jackson, Marquis McClain, and Matthew Hill. There is a lot of speed on display, in this unit.

     As is the case in most years, I’m very concerned about the tight end and H-back spots. The only listed tight ends on Auburn’s roster that will return are senior Sal Cannella and sophomore John Samuel Schenker. Cannella was really used more as a big receiver than a tight end in 2018. Schenker played a good bit and is a bigger body. Senior Spencer Nigh is the only returning H-back on the current roster. I’m reading where Auburn may be able to sign Arizona State grad-transfer Jay Jay Wilson and that he might be able to start immediately. I’m not sure about that guess. Wilson missed last season with an injury and some off-the-field troubles and played linebacker in 2017. I see Schenker and Nigh starting because that’s really all the bodies Auburn has at this point.

     The running back group is good sized and looks dangerous heading into 2019. It’s mainly just a matter of finding lead blockers to open up the running game. I figure senior Kam Martin and sophomore JaTarvious Whitlow will battle for the starting job and may end up co-starting. Both are very dangerous when healthy. Sophomore Shaun Shivers and junior Malik Miller had their moments last season, as well. Shivers is a speedy guy who plays bigger than he really is. Miller fits the role of a big bruiser back with surprisingly good receiving skills. Redshirt freshman Harold Joiner will likely get a good look this spring.

     The biggest question mark headed into spring is at quarterback. An offense is usually dictated by the abilities of its quarterback, and we do not know who that will be. Junior Malik Willis returns with the most experience and playing time, but he’s really not been allowed to pass much. We know he has great speed. We got a chance to see redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood in the bowl game. He also is a speedy runner with good size. Transfer Cord Sandberg is another veteran presence we saw a bit of against Alabama State. Finally, some folks think that incoming freshman Bo Nix will win the starting job. He is enrolling early and will go through spring drills. Nix is the top-rated dual threat quarterback coming out of high school, this year.

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Tigers Get Critical Road Win Ahead of Kentucky

By on January 17th, 2019 in Basketball, News 3 Comments »
Perhaps the only major knock on Bruce Pearl’s Auburn basketball team has been itsr inability to show up on the road. There is no doubting they rank among the sport’s elite, but the one thing that has plagued the Tigers even before this year was poor road play.Typically, fans that haven’t followed the program in depth would... Read Full Story

Mr Alabama Football Wants to Help Auburn Win a National Championship

By on January 16th, 2019 in Football, News 6 Comments »

Prior to Malik Willis being named No. 2 last year, many expected Joey Gatewood to win that role as he drew comparisons to Cam Newton. That was before the rising sophomore was sideline by injury. However, Nix is ranked as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the nation by 247 Sports, and he is coming in with a lot of confidence.

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Upon Further Review: Tigers Bounced Back Against UGA

By on January 15th, 2019 in Basketball, News 2 Comments »

The SEC is off to a strange start as Ole Miss took down No. 15 Mississippi State, and Bama took down Kentucky. There were upsets throughout the NCAA this weekend, and Auburn's bounce back against UGA likely will help keep the Tigers from dropping too far in the rankings. The Tigers beat down of the dogs was ...

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Monday Musings: Taming Dogs Edition

If you’re an Auburn fan few things feel better than a dominating win over your oldest rival. The men’s basketball team did that Saturday in a 93–78 victory over Georgia. It was evident that Bruce Pearl had worked his Tigers on the inside game after Auburn struggled in the paint in a road loss at Ole Miss. And, it resulted ... Read Full Story

A Defensive Look Ahead

By on January 11th, 2019 in Football 4 Comments »
Marlon Davidson was starting more than 2 years ago (Photo by Acid Reign)     War Eagle, everybody! College football has mercifully drawn to a close, and all we can do now is look to the future. I'd much rather do that than ruminate on a pretty lackluster Auburn men's basketball performance at Ole Miss. Auburn's big men just ... Read Full Story

SEC Slate Set for Auburn—Tigers Open With Road Trip to Oxford

By on January 8th, 2019 in Basketball, News 6 Comments »
After another stellar nonconference schedule (11–2) run, the Auburn Tigers are set to begin conference play tomorrow against Ole Miss at the Pavilion in Oxford. Coach Bruce Pearl's squad's two losses have come on the road with the only true road loss coming at the hands of North Carolina State. Though Auburn didn't play well,... Read Full Story

Derrick Brown Foregoes NFL Draft–Says Auburn Is a Special Place

By on January 7th, 2019 in Football, News 12 Comments »
The NFL Draft looms large in college football’s offseason. Who will go, who will stay is always a concern for fans. It’s a popular point of interest from the end of the bowl season to the January 14th deadline for underclassmen to declare.At Auburn, quarterback Jarrett Stidham, cornerback Jamel Dean, and wide receiver Darius... Read Full Story

The Year That Was

By on January 4th, 2019 in Football 4 Comments »
Should have seen it early, but flushed quarterbacks were a theme this year(Photo by Acid Reign)     War Eagle, everybody, and happy New Year! Today, I'll touch on a final look at the 2018 season and ruminate generally on what we might see going forward. I missed a lot of the bowl games due to work. When I did get a night off... Read Full Story

Tiger-Eye Review—Final Note Edition

By on January 3rd, 2019 in Football, News 4 Comments »
Tones sound, and roar and storm about me until I have set them down in notes - Ludwig van BeethovenAs the great Doc Severinsen once asserted to Johnny Carson in an on-show dialogue, there are high notes and higher notes, but there is always an inherent risk in hitting them.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5H1ayuxMMIAuburn's fina... Read Full Story

Upon Further Review: Auburn’s Historic Win Over Purdue

By on January 1st, 2019 in Football, News 14 Comments »
The Auburn Tigers surprised and amazed the college football world with their historic win over the Purdue Boilermakers in the Music City Bowl. The Tigers set or broke several offensive records on their way to a 63–14 blowout victory. Although Vegas had made the Tigers a 3-point favorite, many fans, including yours truly, were ... Read Full Story

Happy New Year From Track ‘Em Tigers!

By on December 31st, 2018 in Football, Memories 7 Comments »
I hope all of you had a great New Year’s Eve. The Tigers’ exciting win in Nashville gave Auburn fans even more reason to celebrate this year. I also hope everyone is enjoying the day and watching plenty of football. We’ll be pulling for the SEC the rest of the way—maybe even slightly pulling for Georgia. At this point, t... Read Full Story

Auburn Demolishes the Boilermakers! (Grading Auburn’s 63-14 victory over Purdue)

By on December 30th, 2018 in Football 14 Comments »
T'was a rough day for Purdue (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)     War Eagle everybody! It's time now for the Acid Reign Report on an electrifying Auburn Music City Bowl victory! The Tigers blazed out to a 56–7 halftime lead, and had to work hard to keep from scoring much, in the second half in a 63–14 rout over... Read Full Story

Explode the Boilermakers! (Auburn vs. Purdue Open Thread)

By on December 28th, 2018 in Football 2 Comments »
Auburn visits Nissan Stadium for the first time in 15 years.     War Eagle, everybody! This afternoon, the Auburn Tigers will take on the Purdue Boilermakers in the 2018 Music City Bowl. Both teams would love to end this season with a victory and go into the off months with some momentum. For Purdue, it is a chance to have a... Read Full Story

How Many Bowl Games Is Too Many?

By on December 27th, 2018 in Football, News 4 Comments »
We’re almost half way through the 2018 bowl season, and we are in the middle of our annual bowl season debate. We see it every December. Questioning whether the NCAA should cut the number of college postseason games. It’s nothing new. In fact the debate has been going on since at least the 1930’s when four new bowls were a... Read Full Story

Track’em Tigers TV: Music City Bowl Preview

Watch Coach Nelson and me as we preview Purdue and discuss the state of the Auburn Football program heading into the off season.

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What Did Santa Bring You For Christmas?

By on December 25th, 2018 in Memories 3 Comments »
All the gifts are unwrapped, and the living room looks like Santa had a head-on collision with the Christmas tree. Winnie and I both had some Orange and Blue under the tree, how about you? It’s that time of year when I open a thread so everyone at TET can tell what they got for Christmas.Share what cool things you got for Chri... Read Full Story

Merry Christmas From Track ‘Em Tigers!

By on December 24th, 2018 in Memories 7 Comments »
As our thoughts move away from football for a couple of days and toward our family and friends, I want to take a moment to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. I know I speak for the entire staff when I say that our best wishes and prayers are with all of you this holiday season.As we share time with the people who mean the m... Read Full Story

Upon Further Review: Did Early Signing Day Fill Needs?

By on December 21st, 2018 in Football, News 4 Comments »
For such an important day as Signing Day, there isn't a lot being written on the Auburn Tigers' new class of incoming freshmen. That doesn't mean that there hasn't been a lot said about certain specific players.The signing of Bo Nix has been covered in depth. The conversations about the legacy player aren't new, and they started... Read Full Story

Expanding the College Football Playoff Field Is Simple, But Will It Ever Happen?

By on December 19th, 2018 in Football, News 32 Comments »

This model would make it possible for every team in America to have a path to the playoffs, but the powers that be don't want that.

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Auburn Wins Overtime Thriller in Legacy Arena

By on December 18th, 2018 in Basketball, News 2 Comments »
It was almost one of those wins that really didn't feel like a win. For a second, many an Auburn basketball fan's first reaction to the overtime win over UAB was, "A bad and ugly win." Some fans even took it a step further pronouncing, "Maybe Auburn isn't as good as we thought."One can't blame them one bit, at least in the immed... Read Full Story