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Auburn football schedule, roster, recruiting and what to watch in 2018

Sporting NewsFeb 22, 2018, 8:45 AM

Auburn's 2017 season was one of the most impressive of any team in college football before it ended with two straight losses. How can the Tigers rebound in 2018?

For Auburn, the 2018 season probably can't arrive soon enough after the Tigers squandered their shot at a College Football Playoff berth in 2017.

The Tigers were a win away in the 2017 SEC championship game from becoming the first two-loss team to make the four-team field. But a loss to Georgia in Atlanta and subsequent loss to UCF in the Peach Bowl provided a disappointing end to a promising season.

MORE: 2018 SEC offseason primer

Still, a 10-4 record is nothing to sneeze at, as evidenced by Gus Malzahn's raise and contract extension through 2024. That performance has the Tigers ranked No. 8 in Sporting News' way-too-early top 25, but they have an even tougher path to the Playoff in 2018.

Here's a look ahead at the Tigers' 2018 season:

Auburn football schedule 2018

DateOpponentLocation

April 7   A-Day Spring Game

Sept. 1    No. 11 Washington     Atlanta

Sept. 8    Alabama State

Sept. 15   No. 13 LSU

Sept. 22  Arkansas

Sept. 29   Southern Miss

Oct. 6      at Mississippi State

Oct. 13    Tennessee

Oct. 20   at Ole Miss

Oct. 27    Bye

Nov. 3   No. 25 Texas A&M

Nov. 10   at No. 3 Georgia.

Nov. 17   Liberty

Nov. 24  at No. 1 Alabama.

Dec. 1   SEC championship

Bold denotes SEC games

Auburn football recruiting 2018

Auburn's 2018 recruiting class ranked 12th nationally and third in the SEC according to 247Sports' Composite team rankings. The class is headlined by the top athlete in the country, dual-threat quarterback Joey Gatewood, who is already on campus. The class heavily features skilled talent, with three four-star receivers and two four-star running backs making their way to Auburn.

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What to watch in 2018:

1. What will run game look like?

Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway combined for more than 4,000 yards over their careers, and their departure to the NFL leaves a gaping hole to fill at running back. Thankfully for the Tigers, projected starter Kam Martin rushed for 453 yards last season after Pettway was lost to injury against Arkansas. That still leaves a spot available for sophomores Devan Barrett and Malik Miller, who combined for 48 carries and 214 yards for the Tigers in 2017, or four-star running back Asa Martin, the No. 9 running back in the 2018 class and an early enrollee.

2. How will Stidham progress in Year 2?

Jarrett Stidham was one of the league's best quarterbacks last season, completing 66.5 percent of passes for 3,158 yards and 18 touchdowns to six interceptions. It will be worth watching how defenses defend against him without the threat of Johnson and Pettway, though he still gets to work with his top five receiving leaders from last year, all of whom had at least 265 yards and all but one of whom caught a touchdown. The return of offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey will go a long way in helping him take on an even larger role in 2018.

3. Can Auburn win the West again?

As tough as Auburn's schedule was in 2017, it will only get tougher this season. Gone is the Clemson home-and-home, only to be replaced with a season-opening, neutral-site collision with No. 11 Washington. Auburn gets LSU early in the schedule at home, but finishes with a tough November stretch against Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama. Those last two opponents could easily be undefeated at that point in the season, and the Tigers will have to go on the road to play them both. The Tigers may need to win both for another SEC championship berth — and another shot at their first Playoff appearance.

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I'm a bit uneasy about Auburn's running back situation. However, some improved offensive line play will help there. Auburn is likely to be more pass heavy this year. I still see Auburn undefeated when they go to Athens.

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5 hours ago, SumterAubie said:

I'm a bit uneasy about Auburn's running back situation. However, some improved offensive line play will help there. Auburn is likely to be more pass heavy this year. I still see Auburn undefeated when they go to Athens.

Don't see why...We got a KJ clone in Asa and several other Uber talented guys. My thing is that I don't know who will be The guy or guys but I do know that we should have stellar play there.

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My instinct says I don’t want a freshman being the leading rusher but then I remember how good Dyer was as a freshman.  If Asa can come in and perform at that level then good things are coming.

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20 minutes ago, WFE12 said:

Don't see why...We got a KJ clone in Asa and several other Uber talented guys. My thing is that I don't know who will be The guy or guys but I do know that we should have stellar play there.

Asa Martin will be a Freshman. Kam Martin and Barrett are a bit undersized to be every down backs. Miller hasn't recovered from his injury. I hope Whitlow will be the horse but he is an unknown quantity. Despite what is posted about him on here. You may be a too young to remember an Auburn tailback named Don Timmons. In '99, he was the talk of the team, tearing up the first string defense as a scout team player. He started one game. 4 carries, 5 yards.

 

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1 hour ago, SumterAubie said:

Asa Martin will be a Freshman. Kam Martin and Barrett are a bit undersized to be every down backs. Miller hasn't recovered from his injury. I hope Whitlow will be the horse but he is an unknown quantity. Despite what is posted about him on here. You may be a too young to remember an Auburn tailback named Don Timmons. In '99, he was the talk of the team, tearing up the first string defense as a scout team player. He started one game. 4 carries, 5 yards.

 

Yeah I am too young to remember him but I do think that guys like Barrett and Kam will pack on the weight and can surprise us. I for one felt good about Barrett last year and think he will be the underdog who can surprise. All this talent, you have to believe someone will be great.

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for those that are worried about size....see Little Train...I was bigger than him when we were in college but he could tote that rock.. i say give them a chance...

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I agree he was very good. But he was not the feature back at Auburn. Plus Auburn was running the wishbone. James did not run into the line as a back in Malzahn's offense is expected to.

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11 minutes ago, SumterAubie said:

I agree he was very good. But he was not the feature back at Auburn. Plus Auburn was running the wishbone. James did not run into the line as a back in Malzahn's offense is expected to.

This is why I don't understand going after the smaller guys (not counting worm who is a bowling ball, but guys like Kmart) especially when we pretty much use a WR now in the role we used Omac.

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Wow, I generally worry about almost everything (I was very concerned about the LA Monroe game, for example) but our RB situation does not concern me at all.

OL on the other hand......

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1 hour ago, ertrader said:

Wow, I generally worry about almost everything (I was very concerned about the LA Monroe game, for example) but our RB situation does not concern me at all.

OL on the other hand......

I was not concerned about the ULM game. But I will be concerned with all of them now. Kj had to work too much to wrap that up. I am concerned with rbs and OLine. I never think we have enough rbs. You never know how the line will develop. All other positions don’t concern me. 

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On 2/23/2018 at 10:04 PM, Win4AU said:

My instinct says I don’t want a freshman being the leading rusher but then I remember how good Dyer was as a freshman.  If Asa can come in and perform at that level then good things are coming.

Your instincts are good. Dyer had a QB who rushed for 1,000 yards and 25 touchdowns plus Onterrio McCaleb to occupy the defense's attention. We also had a better-than-adequate passing game and an OL dripping with experience. Dyer was extremely good but he had a LOT more help than a freshman will in our offense this year. 

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On 2/24/2018 at 1:30 PM, Auburn2Eugene said:

This is why I don't understand going after the smaller guys (not counting worm who is a bowling ball, but guys like Kmart) especially when we pretty much use a WR now in the role we used Omac.

Malzahn goes after guys like Martin as change of pace backs when he thinks he's got his lead backs locked down. He always likes to have one on the team (OMac, Grant, etc). He's slowly learning that there are too many ways to lose a lead back that are totally out of his hands, not to stack the cupboard with every down guys.

I also think, in the case of Martin, he may have be a gift from Briles to Gus, since we had only managed to sign 1 3-star back that year. His first visit to Auburn was 4 days before he signed with us after getting his released from Baylor. At that point, his choices were limited to teams that had space, since he signed in June, but it happening that quick had every sign of it all being part of the plan.

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40 minutes ago, lionheartkc said:

Malzahn goes after guys like Martin as change of pace backs when he thinks he's got his lead backs locked down. He always likes to have one on the team (OMac, Grant, etc). He's slowly learning that there are too many ways to lose a lead back that are totally out of his hands, not to stack the cupboard with every down guys.

I also think, in the case of Martin, he may have be a gift from Briles to Gus, since we had only managed to sign 1 3-star back that year. His first visit to Auburn was 4 days before he signed with us after getting his released from Baylor. At that point, his choices were limited to teams that had space, since he signed in June, but it happening that quick had every sign of it all being part of the plan.

He sure didn't look like he learned anything about that last year running KJ into the ground when he had plenty of guys behind KJ.

Also, you have to be the first person I've ever seen suggest it's better to not have the cupboard stacked with every down backs...

I do agree about Martin being a gift from Briles. I remember seeing a report where Gus had seen KMart on a trip to Baylor and Gus said Briles had signed the best RB in the country. 

And it's funny you mention OMac and Grant. Those were the last 2 change of pace backs he actually used. As I pointed out in my earlier comment, he has exclusively used WRs since those guys for their roles. Ricardo Louis, Stanton Truitt, and Eli Stove have been that guy.

Edited by Auburn2Eugene

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1 hour ago, Auburn2Eugene said:

He sure didn't look like he learned anything about that last year running KJ into the ground when he had plenty of guys behind KJ.

What was he supposed to do? This isn't the NFL. You can't make mid-season changes to the line-up when you don't have the personnel you need. Look at this year's recruiting class and tell me he didn't learn anything from having both of his starting running backs injured and back-ups who weren't up to the task.

1 hour ago, Auburn2Eugene said:

Also, you have to be the first person I've ever seen suggest it's better to not have the cupboard stacked with every down backs...

Where did I suggest anything like that? I actually stated the exact opposite.

1 hour ago, Auburn2Eugene said:

And it's funny you mention OMac and Grant. Those were the last 2 change of pace backs he actually used. As I pointed out in my earlier comment, he has exclusively used WRs since those guys for their roles. Ricardo Louis, Stanton Truitt, and Eli Stove have been that guy.

They have... that doesn't mean that he's not trying to pick up the next OMac or Grant. He was successful with both, so you can bet he makes an effort to repeat that success.

Edited by lionheartkc

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2 hours ago, lionheartkc said:

They have... that doesn't mean that he's not trying to pick up the next OMac or Grant. He was successful with both, so you can bet he makes an effort to repeat that success.

Yeah. Not sure that it matters whether it's an RB or WR. Gus will always recruit speed and if a WR wins that role, so be it. In just these last 2 classes he's recruited Whitlow, Iggy, Shwartz and Shivers. I think Shwartz is the only clear-cut WR of the bunch. Whitlow is still listed as a WR on the official roster and he's now an RB. Iggy has exclusively been a KR. Ryan Davis is basically a speed back who gets the pitch outside the hashes. 

I'm not sure what the deal with Kam Martin was/is. Not sure he's the one-cut speed guy like the guys in the list above. He seems like potentially a Noel Devine or Dexter McCluster type guy, but either he hasn't developed as hoped or Gus and Chip can't/won't figure out how to use his skill set. 

I'm curious if missing a high quality HBack/TE or even FB a la Prosch affects guys like Martin significantly. OMac had Fannin and Lutz (so did TZach). Grant had Prosh and Uzomah (so did Louis pre-2015; his rushing average dropped by over half and total yards went down in 2015 despite becoming the primary speed sweep guy). We haven't had HB/TE/FBs of that caliber since and we haven't seen the production from the other guys since. Louis and Stove have had moments, but we haven't had the home runs the previous guys produced. 

Hmm. I just looked, and 2017 Stove wasn't as far behind 2014 Grant as I thought. Optimism!

Anyway. What Lion said. Gus isn't going to recruit the "speed sweep guy" 4 deep at RB or WR. He's going to try to recruit some elite speed at both and give himself some options. 

Edited by McLoofus
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i think we should suit up bird. i believe with his wing span he can elevate just enough to get around the  corners for those huge gains. maybe if we provide golf with plenty of ice cold beer and a cattle prod he can help bird to a heisman type of year..........

Edited by aubiefifty
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8 hours ago, aubiefifty said:

i think we should suit up bird. i believe with his wing span he can elevate just enough to get around the  corners for those huge gains. maybe if we provide golf with plenty of ice cold beer and a cattle prod he can help bird to a heisman type of year..........

I got something else in mind beside a cattle prod

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