5 questions with Auburn reporter Justin Lee

By: Scottie Bordelon
Published: Friday, September 21, 2018
Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against LSU, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against LSU, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

How are Auburn players responding after the close loss to LSU?

Linebacker Deshaun Davis, who’s Auburn’s unquestioned leader on defense, said Auburn players were still “hurt” when they got back together for practice Sunday. But, he said, the players having that feeling for a while would motivate them moving forward.

Auburn coaches and players alike were certainly down and subdued after the loss — which is a better sign for them than if they were expecting to lose, at least.

Arkansas has had issues keeping its quarterbacks upright through 3 weeks. Who is the Auburn pass rusher most capable of a big day?

Sacks have been a bit of a by-committee effort for Auburn this season. Last season they had their designated pass-rush specialist — Jeff Holland — but this year Auburn’s front four is made up, more so, of all-around guys. But that’s not to say that Auburn doesn’t have a fierce defensive line. Marlon Davidson, Derrick Brown, Dontavius Russell and Nick Coe are all playmakers.

They were mostly subdued when LSU dropped as many as seven players back in pass protection last week, so they’ll be anxious to get through the Arkansas offensive line on Saturday, too.

Ty Storey will get his second career start at QB this weekend. What can he expect to see from Auburn's defense?

Auburn’s experienced front seven will look to get to him, to try to help out its inexperienced defensive backfield. Auburn returns six of seven starters in that front seven, with Holland being the only departure there from a group of defensive linemen and linebackers that had a wildly successful 2017. But Auburn’s secondary is much less experienced.

Last week, LSU went all-out in pass protection to neutralize the Auburn pass rush to give its quarterback time to attack the Auburn secondary. It’ll be interesting to see if Arkansas tries to do the same this week — and if Auburn’s defense does anything different when faced with well-armored protection for Storey on passing plays.

Who are a few of the playmakers around Jarrett Stidham to keep an eye on?

Ryan Davis is Auburn’s leading receiver, back from leading the team in receiving a year ago. He also handles punt-return duties for the Tigers, and is exciting to watch in the open field. Redshirt freshman JaTarvious Whitlow has emerged among the Auburn running backs, alongside true freshman Shaun Shivers and their experienced partner, junior Kam Martin.

But No. 5 is the one to remember; true freshman receiver Anthony Schwartz is a track star who holds youth world records in the 100-meter dash, and he may well be the fastest college football player in America. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

Defensive linemen McTelvin Agim (7 QB hurries) and Armon Watts (3 sacks) have been able to apply some pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season. How do those two guys and Arkansas' front four match up with Auburn's offensive line?

Auburn’s offensive line is built from a mixed-and-match group of three players who had a handful or so starts last season, a right tackle who’s a graduate transfer from UMass, and a reserve center stepping in for his first starts early this season. They’ve been serviceable enough, with their only glaring weakness being a penchant for penalties that have set the Auburn offense back at times.

Agim and Watts will have their chances to get to Stidham, but Auburn will do everything it can through misdirection, play-action and more to keep them from getting the chance. Stidham rarely steps back into a straight drop-back, and that’s by design — but great players will still make their impact on Saturday’s game.

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