A Defensive Look Ahead.

Friday, January 11, 2019

A Defensive Look Ahead.

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 could not handle passes and put up decent shorts. However, the Auburn women’s team is playing well, and they knocked off Alabama at Coleman Coliseum! Nice job!

     I was quite worried this month, thinking about what would be left of the Auburn defense, after graduation and the NFL draft were finished with it. As it has turned out, only cornerback Jamel Dean has opted to go out early, on the entire defense! Dean will be missed. He was Auburn’s best all-around cornerback, with speed, agility, and the size and reach to match up with any receiver.

     Auburn will lose senior defensive tackles Dontavius Russell and Andrew Williams. However, Derrick Brown returns, and he’ll be joined by a host of tackles who have played meaningful minutes, including Tyrone Truesdale, Daquan Newkirk, and Coynis Miller Jr. If needed, buck Nick Coe can move in and play an interior position, as well. At end, Marlon Davidson will be back, and he has been a 3-year starter. Nick Coe and Gary Walker have played that true end position, also. At buck, Coe returns, and he’s joined by talents Big Kat Bryant, TD Moultry, and Richard Jibunor. Auburn again should be nasty up front.

     Auburn loses a trio of senior starters at linebacker. Deshaun Davis, Darrell Williams and Montavious Atkinson have been the glue for the Auburn defense, for the last couple of seasons. I figure Kenny Britt is the likeliest candidate to step up and lead the defense from the middle. Richard McBryde is the only upper classman in the mix. After that guys who were underclassmen this past season will have to step up. These guys include Josh French, Zakoby McClain, Tanner Dean, Chandler Wooten, and Michael Harris. It is possible that a guy or two that Auburn acquired during the early signing period could wind up playing right away.

     The secondary shapes up well, with 4 of 5 starters returning. At corner/nickelback, Noah Igbinoghene and Javaris Davis return. Christian Tutt has seen a good bit of playing time behind the starters, as has Jordyn Peters. At safety, Daniel Thomas and Jeremiah Dinson return to their starting positions, and again there is depth. Smoke Monday and Jamien Sherwood have played quite a bit, as well.

     Auburn should field a talented, fairly deep defense next season, with the only real question coming at linebacker. When linebackers coach Travis Williams came on board the Auburn coaching staff, I was stunned at how quickly he turned around what had been a liablity for years. Inspired linebacker play has been the difference the past three seasons, between a defense that gives up in the teens, and the defenses before that that gave up 25 or more points per game. I am confident that Williams will have a new unit ready to go in short order.

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