Four Questions for Auburn Offense Heading into Fall Camp
Seth Williams caught five touchdown passes in 2018 (photo: Todd Kirkland/AP Photo)
It’s the middle of summer here on the Plains and just one week before Auburn opens fall camp. The Tigers will have five days of practice beginning Monday August 5th before taking a break. There will be 14 days of grueling under-the-summer-sun practices before closing out August 18th. There are always questions heading into fall camp, and this year none will be bigger than …
Who will be named starting quarterback?
Will it be redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood or true freshman Bo Nix? My guess is Coach Malzahn will not make that announcement until right before the Tigers take on Oregon inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on August 31st. On this, I hope I’m wrong but, going by Gus’ track record, it seems to be the most likely scenario.
Who will replace Darius Slayton?
No matter which quarterback gets the starting nod, he will need a good offensive line and go-to quality receivers. Auburn has five returning lineman, but who will be the QB’s favorite target in 2019? Last year’s go-to guy was Darius Slayton, who will be playing for the New York Giants this season after declaring early for the NFL Draft.
The Tigers have a lot of talent here, especially with the return of Eli Stove and Will Hastings from injuries. Other players to watch will be redshirt junior Marquis McClain and redshirt freshman Kolbi Fuqua, both 6-2 receivers who can climb the ladder.
However, sophomore Seth Williams has to be the leader of the pack. The offensive MVP of the A-Day game had a breakout year in 2018, catching 26 passes for 534 yards and five touchdowns.
Who will be the next H-back?
The graduated Chandler Cox was a four-year starter at H-back. While he only had three carries and 11 receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown, he was an important cog in the Malzahn offense, serving primarily as a run blocker.
Who are the prospects? Freshman tight ends Tyler Fromm and Luke Deal will be in the mix, and Harold Joiner could be moved from the tailback stable. But the likely heir apparent is John Samuel Shenker. The redshirt sophomore had three receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown in limited action in 2018.
Who will be the bellcow running back in 2019?
The Tigers have a talented stable of candidates that includes redshirt freshman Harold Joiner and newcomers D.J. Williams and Mark-Antony Richards. The three will be trying to impress new RB coach Carnell Williams to give them a shot.
That may be a big challenge with JaTarvious “Boobee” Whitlow, Kam Martin, and Shaun Shivers returning. Martin has been named to the Doak Campbell Award Watch List, Whitlow is one of eight Tigers placed on the preseason All-SEC team, and Shivers is a track star and home-run threat.
Judging from remarks made recently by Coach Williams, Auburn may not have a featured back in 2019. Williams says his philosophy is to rotate as many guys as possible to keep fresh legs in the backfield. That hearkens back to his days of sharing the load with fellow first-round draft pick Ronnie Brown.
If there is currently a duo on campus that can compare to the Williams/Brown tandem, then the Tigers will be in great shape this season. However, expect Kam Martin to be named the starter with Boobee Whitlow getting more touches and joining the 1,000 yard club by season’s end.