Going into the 2019 football season, one of the strengths of Coach Gus Malzahn’s team should be the offensive line, but there are also reasons for concern.
On the plus side for the Tigers, each five of the projected guys who are No. 1 on the depth chart finished the 2018 season as starters. All five have plenty of game experience and each of those guys is not only a senior, he is a fifth-year senior.
The left side of the line has the potential to be very good with pro prospect Prince Tega Wanogho Jr. at tackle lined up next to Marquel Harrell, who I expect to be one of the top guards in the Southeastern Conference this season.
However, other than senior Bailey Sharp the backup situation at the tackle spots for 2019 is a big unknown. If the Tigers lose more than one of their starting tackles to injuries, that is going to be a major problem due to inadequate recruiting at the position in recent years.
Since there is a 100 percent chance the Tigers are going to have to replace the starting tackles plus top backup Sharp after this season, Malzahn and his staff need to make sure they bolster all of the offensive line spots, but most importantly the tackles, in the next signing class.
The Tigers added just three offensive linemen in the 2019 class, which was a disappointment, and there may not be a tackle in the group. Incoming signees Kamar Bell and Keiondre Jones are definitely guards. Justin Osborne, who has played multiple positions, looks more suited to guard than tackle.
Among the seven verbal commitments for the 2020 class, there is just one tackle, junior college player Jonathan Buskey, and the Tigers need to sign at least three, so they have major work to do on the recruiting front.
It’s a big week for the baseball Tigers as they close the regular season with three games at LSU. Auburn is running out of chances to enhance its resume for the NCAA Tournament so winning at least two out of three from a slumping LSU team is something Coach Butch Thompson’s Tigers really need to do.
It’s the biggest week of the year for the Auburn softball team, which has been sent way west for the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed in the four-team Tucson Regional, where the host University of Arizona Wildcats will be very difficult to beat because they hit the ball so well.
Auburn’s season ended last year at the regional in Tallahassee where the Tigers narrowly lost to eventual national champion Florida State. My expectation is the 2019 season is also going to end at the regional round of the NCAA Tournament unless the Tigers start hitting the ball more consistently than they did in the last month.
Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter