Heartbreak, triumph and miracles summarize the painful yet thrilling experience that is Auburn football. Some of you have been around the experience your entire lives and can't wait to return to Jordan Hare Sept. 3. Some of you may only be familiar with the names of former Tigers like Cam Newton and Bo Jackson and some of you will probably hide away from the game day noise in the fall.
Regardless of your stance, welcome to Auburn. If you've paid attention to any recent Auburn football news, you know that it's been a minute since we've had a Cam, a Bo or a miracle. But this team still has a lot to give.
Incoming defensive linemen Marlon Davidson and Antwuan Jackson, both 4-star recruits, bolstered an already strong position group with Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams returning. On A-Day, the defenses forced a combined 1-for-22 on 3rd down from the Blue and White team offenses. They dominated a clearly unsettled quarterback race.
Three defensive assistant changes were made in the offseason, new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, linebackers coach Travis Williams, and defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff look to build on a defense that rapidly improving to end 2015. We can expect Carl Lawson, Rudy Ford and Carlton Davis (pending Davis won't see much off time after being arrested recently) can help bridge the staff transition.
Your guess is as good as mine as to who will be leading from the pocket this year. The unfamiliar face of John Franklin III, a JUCO transfer from East Mississippi Community College, has found a spot in the quarterback competition. A dual-threat quarterback that is remnant of Nick Marshall during his time on the Plains, but shifty and of smaller physique, Franklin III would seemingly fit in well in the hurry-up offense that has made the Tigers successful in the past. However, his passing game needs tuning in order for him to win the job.
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White and Johnson are still a part of the competition, but moving on to another year doesn't fend off questions from the 2015 season. Can Johnson find his confidence? Will White stay healthy?Johnson improved toward the end of the season and was 10-for-23 with 170 yards and one touchdown in last year's Iron Bowl. When healthy, White was orchestrating the offense with confidence, most notably in his 250 yard outing against Arkansas.
Both have proven physically capable of competing in the SEC, but whether they will be able to overcome last year's struggles, especially in the midst of a heated competition, remains to be seen.
After losing starting tackles Avery Young and Shon Coleman to the NFL, Auburn has been shuffling and restructuring the offensive line. Last season's center Austin Golson has been moved to left tackle and the right tackle position has become a competition of its own. Robert Leff and Darius James are in the running, and Braden Smith could slide to right tackle from right guard.
Jovon Robinson looks to take over as starting running back after a strong finish to 2015. Kerryon Johnson and Roc Thomas both have the opportunity to tote the rock for the Tigers. Half backs Chandler Cox and Kamyrn Pettway will potentially mirror former Tiger Jay Prosch, returning the running game to 2013 form.
New receivers coach Kodi Burns will be preparing an inexperienced but talented receivers corps. The group gets a boost from four highly sought after prospects, highlighted Nate-Craig Myers and Kyle Davis.
With the emotional roller coaster that is Auburn football, the season outcome is unsure. But you can count on something to do on Saturdays and rolling Toomer's more than a handful of times.
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