Auburn Tigers College Football Preview 2021: Defense
– Just about everyone got out of bed and put up 400+ yards on the Auburn defense. To be fair – at least a little bit – Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia and Ole Miss knew how to crank up the O, and Auburn finished an okay sixth in the conference in total defense and fourth in scoring D.
However, it was dead last in the league in third down stops, the pass rush was hit-or-miss, and it wasn’t able to do quite enough against a slew of mediocre attacks. On the plus side, former Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason was an inspired get as the defensive coordinator, and eight starters are expected to be back for what should be a much, much stronger unit.
– There’s NFL talent in the back seven. The linebacking combination of Zakoby McClain and Owen Pappoe combined for 216 tackles and should be all over the field again. They’re not all that big, but they can move. It’s a deep group of linebackers that should be the team’s biggest strength – if it’s not running back or corner.
Welcome Dreshun Miller from West Virginia, a solid playmaking corner last year who came up with 31 tackles and eight broken up passes. He’s good, but Roger McCreary is better on the other side – the senior made 45 tackles with seven tackles for loss, three picks and six broken up passes.
The coaching staff will need fall camp to work on the safety situation, but 73-tackle Smoke Monday is a potential all-star at one spot.
– The line has experience, and it’s getting help with 335-pound UAB transfer Tony Fair for the inside. Colby Wooden was fine in his freshman year, and 325-pounder Tyrone Truesdell is a solid veteran. Now the pressure has to start coming from the ends.
The linebackers didn’t most of the heavy lifting for the pass rush, and Big Kat Bryant is gone from one end to UCF. Wooden could likely work more as an end, and junior Derick Hall is a hybrid who’ll be turned loose on the edge to try to do more in the backfield.