4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE AUBURN DEFENSE
– The stumbles and misfires on offense overshadowed a solid season from a defense that might have been just par for the course in the SEC, but was good by any other reasonable standard. This year, the D has the upside to be dominant thanks to a killer front four.
DT Derrick Brown could’ve and should’ve been gone to the NFL, but he’s back and should be a lock for All-America honors. The rotation for all of the spots will be fantastic, with Nick Coe, Marlon Davison, and Big Kat Bryant all next-level talents working somewhere on the line – mostly on the outside – and with good 310-pound junior DT Tyrone Truesdall ready to take on a bigger role with the loss of Dontavius Russell.
– The pass defense was more than fine, and now it gets four starters back in a five-man secondary, working around the safety duo of Jeremiah Dinson and Daniel Thomas – the team’s two leading returning tacklers. CB Jamel Dean left early to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer – that’s going to sting, even with a decent corner situation in place – but Noah Igbinoghene is back at one outside gig and versatile veteran Javaris Davis likely take over Dean’s spot.
– The rest of the defense is in place, but the linebacking corps has to undergo an overhaul with the three top starters – Deshaun Davis, Darrell Williams and Montavious Atkinson – gone. KJ Britt and Chandler Wooten aren’t that big, but they can move. Throw in star freshmen prospects Owen Pappoe and Derick Hall, and this should quietly grow into a good situation behind the talented veteran line.