Auburn Tigers Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Auburn season with what you need to know and keys to the season.
Auburn Tigers Preview
Head Coach: Bryan Harsin, 2nd year at Auburn,
10th year, 82-31 overall, 2021 Preview
2021 Record: Overall: 6-7, Conference: 3-5
Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Auburn Top 10 Players | Auburn Schedule & Analysis
Auburn Tigers Preview 2022
Did anything interesting happen with Auburn this offseason?
Blow off the five straight losses to close the year, and the way the Tigers came this close to knocking Alabama out of the College Football Playoff – oh yeah, and almost winning the Iron Bowl, too – and the loss of several players through the transfer portal, and head coach Bryan Harsin almost getting whacked for a whole slew of alleged reasons, mostly because of all the above things …
Welcome to the SEC.
You beat Alabama and every else gets swept aside. You collapse late against the Tide and in the bowl game against Houston to finish 6-7, and there’s a problem.
SEC and Auburn fans never quite bought into the Harsin hiring. He went 69-19 at Boise State with three Mountain West championships and two other division titles in six years, and that was coming off a Sun Belt championship in his one year at Arkansas State.
To be cynical about all this, and to hammer this home even harder – if Tank Bigsby stays in bounds late against the Tide, there’s a very, very different narrative to the offseason, Harsin still doesn’t have a losing season on his resumé, and the program is building back up on the right path.
That’s why there’s one key aspect that’s been lost here – Auburn has a solid team returning.
It might not win the SEC title, but even with all the big departures among the coaches and personnel, the team should have a better record and be in for a stronger season.
And if not, buying out Harsin’s contract is a lot cheaper now.
Auburn Tigers Preview 2022: Offense
Out goes Mike Bobo as offensive coordinator – Auburn finished 11th in the SEC scoring and averaged just over 400 yards per game – and in steps Eric Kiesau into the role after coaching the receivers last year. First and foremost, he’ll try to get the passing game going.
Bo Nix is off to Oregon, but the parts are in place to start coming up with more deep shots, being more consistent, and most of all, being far more efficient to keep up with the high-octane attacks across the SEC West. That starts with …
The quarterback situation has to be settled. Former LSU transfer TJ Finley is the most likely choice for the gig after seeing enough time to throw for 827 yards and six touchdowns with one pick, but Texas A&M transfer Zach Calzada and Oregon transfer Robby Ashford will get a shot.
The receiving corps is fine, but it has to be more explosive. Leading receiver Kobe Hudson is gone to UCF, but almost everyone else returns with enough depth to play around with the lineup a bit in fall camp.
The running backs are fantastic. Tank Bigsby needs to come up with a few more big dashes, but he’s a tough runner who hit the 1,000-yard mark with ten scores, and Jarquez Hunter averaged close to seven yards per carry. They’re good, the offensive line – once everyone is healthy – should be a positive, and the balance should be there.
Auburn Tigers Preview 2022: Defense
The defense needs to be better. It was good at times at getting behind the line, and it held up relatively well against the big boys on the slate, but it had a weird way of not coming up big when it absolutely had to. Experience should help that, the recruiting classes have been good, and a few transfers will help round things out.
The back seven needs work, but …
As long as everyone can stay healthy, the front four should be one of the team’s biggest positives. Getting 6-6, 328-pound Jayson Jones in from Oregon to help gum up the works helps, and everyone else up front is back.
The pass rush was there last season, and the run defense allowed just eight touchdowns – none in the last five games – and just 3.5 yards per carry. However …
The secondary and linebacking corps could need a little bit to get going. Owen Pappoe is back after missing most of last season from his spot in the middle of the linebacking corps, and the rotation will fill in around him.
Most of the key guys in the secondary have to be replaced around veteran safety Zion Puckett – CB Roger McCreary and S Smoke Monday are the biggest losses. This group got ripped up at times last year and didn’t hold up well enough in several clutch moments, but that’s life in the SEC. The passing game are just that good.