Something to Prove in 2019

Monday, July 22, 2019

Something to Prove in 2019

SEC Media Days are in the books and it’s only 40 days till Auburn faces Oregon at AT&T Stadium in the Advocare Kickoff Classic in Dallas, Texas. Not surprisingly, Gus Malzahn said at Media Days that the top priority heading into the 2019 season will be the quarterback battle between red shirt freshman Joey Gatewood and true freshman Bo Nix.

Even with a rookie quarterback leading the team, Malzahn exuded a cautious confidence about the upcoming season. He even went so far as saying the Tigers had “a chance” to win a championship, ‘if’ they can win some close games. “I don’t think every team in our league can say that,” Gus said. “But we have a chance.”

There are several reasons for the coach’s enthusiasm. First, whoever wins the QB race will play behind an experienced line with all five starters returning from 2018 including Remington Trophy nominee Kaleb Kim. Couple that experience with Boobee Whitlow and Kam Martin at running back and an experience receiving corps that knows how to block and you have the potential for a productive offense.

Special teams look strong as well with two pre season All SEC picks in kicker Anders Carlson and punter Aaron Sypos. 

However the real excitement about the 2019 Tigers lies with the defense. Under defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, the Tigers have been a top 15 scoring defense the last three years. And Gus thinks they can be better in 2019. In fact, the head coach said they could be the best defense in his 10 years of coaching on the Plains.

As with the O-Line, the defensive line will be full of veterans from 2018 including three pre season All-SEC selections. All but one starting defensive lineman will be back and the second unit maybe just as strong as the first. “We’ve got a lot of experience, [and] a lot of really talented guys on defense, specifically up front,” Gus said. “The strength of our team is up front. That’s a good thing in this league.”

But probably the number one reason for feeling good about Auburn’s chances in 2019 is the Tigers are hungry. 

After a disappointing 8-5 regular season, Auburn ended on a high note with a 62-13 blowout of Purdue in the Music City Bowl. Gus says the bowl victory gave the Tigers an exciting feeling about a do over in 2019. “I think that momentum has really carried over. They’re a real hungry team and I feel like they have something to prove.”

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