SEC Media Days: 10 Most Important Questions For Tigers

Gus Malzahn is catching a lot of heat about this season. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Gus Malzahn is catching a lot of heat about this season. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images) /

SEC Media Days kicks off this week meaning that football is right around the corner and HC Gus Malzahn will have plenty major questions to answer.

The biggest question on everyone’s minds is who will be named Auburn’s starting QB, but that will probably go unanswered until Auburn kicks off against Oregon. There are several other major questions or areas of interest/concern that Malzahn will need to address to the media before the start of the season.

To keep all of you up to speed here is a focus list of areas of concern that Malzahn will be addressing in Hoover on Thursday. Use this as a cheat sheet to stay up to speed on vital info going into the 2019 season.

This list is in no particular order:

1.      Last year Malzahn used a runningback by committee approach and for the first season in 10 years didn’t produce a 1,000-yard rusher. With a RB committee consisting of Boobee Whitlow, Shaun Shivers, and Kam Martin there is plenty of talent capable of producing a 1,000 yard rusher and an effective backfield, but consistency is crucially needed in the delegation of carries and the execution of the “Hurry Up No Huddle” offense. It would be beneficial to know how new RB coach Cadillac Williams and Malzahn are coordinating their system to create an effective backfield in a fast-paced system such as Auburn’s.

2.      Eli Stove and Will Hastings missed a large part of the 2018 season due to injuries but are expected to return for the 2019 season. Eli Stove participated in the spring game while Hastings did not. Hastings first underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL over a year ago and has since had to undergo a second surgery after suffering a recovery setback following the Alabama State game. Hastings, an effective WR that gave Stidham a major cushion in the 2017 season would be a valuable asset to whoever this year’s starting QB is. How is his recovery now?

3.      Last year’s biggest problem was the offensive line. The line allowed 23 sacks and didn’t provide protection for the backfield. While all five starters return depth is still going to be a concern with right tackle Austin Troxell sidelined for the season with a torn ACL. Will Kaleb Kim be more consistent at center? Will Jack Driscoll be more consistent at right tackle? Will there be any personnel shifts?

4.      There is no question that DT Derrick Brown will be anchoring down this defense, but who will replace the senior leadership of Dontavius Russell?

5.      In the spring Malzahn said that there would not be much of a drop off at the linebacker position, but the Tigers lose their 3 top linebackers including defensive leader Deshaun Davis. Are the young talents of Owen Pappoe, K.J. Britt, Chandler Wooten, and Zakoby McClain ready to take over?

6.      Last year’s pass defense was ranked 58th in the country, but with senior Javaris Davis returning and preseason praise surrounding sophomore Christian Tutt this offseason the question in everyone’s minds is: are the talents and capabilities of Auburn’s pass defense developing to be more effective?

7.      With Whitlow primarily being RB 1 and Igbinoghene’s primary focus as CB, there will need to be a new kick returner: who will it be?

8.      Anders Carlson made only 60 percent of his field goals last season (15/25), how is he progressing heading into his sophomore season?

9.      Anthony Schwartz is a proven freak athlete and has the potential to make the greatest impact against ineffective pass defenses, how will his talents be utilized this season?

10.   Last but not least: Auburn ranked 90th in red zone efficiency and 91st in 3rd down conversion, the losses to LSU (22-21) and Tennessee (30-24) are glaring reminders of the Tigers’ 2018 offensive woes. A large part of this is attributed to the poor pace of the game and inconsistency of the offensive line, but the line returns the same 5 starters this year. How do they move forward to improve upon this?

Expect there to be answers/discussions regarding these 10 questions as Malzahn takes the podium at SEC Media Days in Hoover on Thursday.