With Southeastern Conference Football Media Days on the schedule next week at Hoover, it will be interesting to see where the Tigers are picked to finish in the league and which players are considered worthy of preseason All-SEC status.
I certainly think Auburn has plenty of possibilities this year with proven players returning on both defense and offense. However, considering the Tigers play in the SEC West and that 50 percent of the teams on their schedule are ranked in 2019 preseason Top 10 polls there is no way I am predicting Auburn to win the overall league championship or even a divisional title.
Based on their schedules and returning players, Alabama, led by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, looks to be the team to beat in the SEC West with LSU the one that looks most likely to challenge the Tide for the divisional championship.
Texas A&M and Auburn look to be the other two teams in the division with the potential to advance to the league title game. Mississippi State is coming off a very strong year by Bulldog standards, but lost a lot. Ole Miss and Arkansas weren’t very good last year and will be challenged not to go backwards this fall.
In the SEC East the Georgia Bulldogs, led by proven quarterback Jake Fromm, look like a solid favorite. Florida has a favorable schedule, momentum from a surprising 10-win season and a returning starter at quarterback, too, so the Gators could move to the head of the pack if they can get their offensive line concerns resolved.
The rest of the SEC East doesn’t appear to have any title contenders. Kentucky has major rebuilding to do after its breakout season while South Carolina and Tennessee don’t appear to have enough talent or depth to earn a postseason trip to Atlanta. Missouri and Vanderbilt will likely battle to stay out of the SEC basement.
Auburn won’t have a shortage of all-conference candidates this year, particularly on a defense that features linemen Derrick Brown, Nick Coe and Marlon Davidson, plus a secondary that includes Javaris Davis, Daniel Thomas, Jeremiah Dinson and Noah Igbinoghene.
On offense the Tigers look strong up front on the left side with Prince Tega Wanogho, Jr., at tackle lined up next to fellow senior Marquel Harrell. There are a lot of good options in the receiver group and if the young quarterbacks can get them the football on a consistent basis that will be a big deal for the Tigers. Seth Williams, a 6-foot-3, 224-pound sophomore, looks like an all-star receiver who needs to be a primary target.
A key to making a strong push in the 2019 SEC race will be keeping players like Williams, Brown, Coe, Davidson and others healthy while building momentum and confidence by winning games in the opening month of play in Texas vs. the Oregon Ducks and Texas A&M Aggies. If that happens, October and November could be exciting months for Auburn football.
Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter