Auburn scouting report

By: Matt Jones
Published: Friday, September 21, 2018
Auburn Tigers wide receiver Ryan Davis (23) runs against Washington in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Auburn Tigers wide receiver Ryan Davis (23) runs against Washington in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Coach: Gus Malzahn (47-23 overall in sixth season)

2018 Record: 2-1 overall, 0-1 SEC

2017 Record: 10-4 overall, 7-1 SEC

2017 Postseason Result: Lost 28-7 to Georgia in SEC Championship Game; Lost 34-27 to Central Florida in the Peach Bowl.

Offense: Hurry Up No Huddle

Defense: Multiple

Returning Lettermen: 58 (27 offense, 28 defense, 3 special teams)

Returning Starters: 14 (6 offense, 7 defense, 1 special teams)

Players to Watch: QB Jarrett Stidham, RB Kam Martin, LT Prince Tega Wanogho, DL Derrick Brown, DL Dontavious Russell, DB Jamel Dean

Series Record: Auburn leads 15-11-1.

Last Meeting: Auburn defeated Arkansas 52-20 on Oct. 21, 2017, in Fayetteville.

The Skinny on Auburn

Arkansas made overtures to Gus Malzahn last fall after Malzahn led Auburn to its second SEC West championship in five seasons. Malzahn leveraged the Arkansas interest into a longterm contract and hefty pay raise that likely will keep him in Auburn for the rest of his career.

Comparing rosters, it’s not difficult to understand why Malzahn chose to remain in Auburn. The Tigers are loaded with potential all-conference players on both sides of the ball, a proven quarterback and speed all over the field.

Despite its last-second loss to LSU last week, Auburn still is considered a challenger in the SEC West race because of its success against Alabama under Malzahn.

Auburn Key Stat

Arkansas has been no match for Auburn the past two seasons, losing by a combined 85 points.

The Tigers have held the Razorbacks to one offensive touchdown during that time - a 2-yard run by Devwah Whaley against the Auburn backups with just more than three minutes remaining in last season’s 52-20 decision in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks also scored on De’Vion Warren’s 100-yard kickoff return.

Auburn defeated Arkansas 56-3 in 2016. The Tigers have out-gained the Razorbacks 1,261-549 in total offense during the past two meetings.

Auburn Key Player

Jarrett Stidham doesn’t have the prototypical speed to be a dual-threat quarterback, yet the junior has been effective running the ball at times.

When adjusted to remove sacks, Stidham had nine carries for 40 yards in Auburn’s season opener against Washington, including a long run of 18 yards. He also had a 6-yard touchdown run the following week against Alabama State and an 8-yard run against LSU last week.

Stidham is primarily a passing threat - he completed 26 of 36 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown against a good Washington defense before struggling with two interceptions against LSU last week - but the running ability keeps defenses honest and allows Auburn to utilize the run-pass option, or RPO.

Stidham accounted for 267 yards and a touchdown last season against Arkansas. He will represent the best running threat the Razorbacks have seen this season. Quarterbacks combined to pass the ball 135 times in Arkansas' first three games.

Auburn on Offense

The Tigers use as much pre-snap eye candy as any team in college football.

Auburn quickly gets to the line of scrimmage, then uses an array of movement from the skill positions that makes it difficult for a defense to keep its discipline. Not only does the movement have the potential to induce defensive pre-snap penalties, but also forces defenders in the back seven or eight to make split-second decisions about who or where to cover.

The Tigers routinely are one of the SEC’s best run offenses. This year the run game centers around two running backs, Kam Martin and JaTarvious Whitlow, but realistically any skill player is a threat to run with the ball because of the number of sweeps and reverses that are in the Malzahn playbook. For instance, receiver Anthony Schwartz had a touchdown run against Alabama State. Schwartz is a world-class sprinter who in July was a silver medalist in the 100 meters and a gold medalist as part of the 400-meter relay team at the IAAF U20 World Championships.

Martin is more of a finesse runner than Whitlow, who showed power when he ran over a Washington defender before stretching into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown in the opener.

Auburn can hurt teams a number of ways in the passing game. The Tigers were one of the first offenses to employ the RPO and routinely find receivers in open space with quick passes off play action, but they also have vertical threats in speedy freshmen Schwartz and Seth Williams, and Ryan Davis, who had a school-record 84 receptions last year. Sal Cannella is strong against one-on-one coverages on the outside. He had a great touchdown catch on a fade route against Washington.

Eli Stove and Will Hastings are experienced receivers who could be available for the Arkansas game after missing early-season games while rehabbing from knee surgeries. Stove has had big plays against Arkansas the past two years, including the 78-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game two years ago.

Auburn’s offensive line lost four starters from last season, but all five starters this year are in at least their junior season. Blindside tackle Prince Tega Wanogho could be taken within the first two rounds of the next NFL Draft.

Auburn struggled the first two weeks with fumbles. The Tigers fumbled five times against Alabama State and lost four, but did not fumble the ball any against LSU.

Auburn on Defense

Malzahn made a reputation for himself on offense, but it has been the defense under coordinator Kevin Steele that has keyed Auburn’s resurgence over the past two-plus seasons.

In its first two games, Auburn allowed three touchdowns and forced six turnovers. LSU won last week by scoring two touchdowns and committing zero turnovers.

Auburn has been especially stingy against the run, allowing 102 yards on 33 carries against Washington, 94 yards on 35 carries against Alabama State and 135 yards on 42 carries against LSU - an average of 2.96 yards per carry. Against Washington, Auburn had nine tackles for loss.

Derrick Brown and Dontavious Russell are 320-pound anchors on the interior of the defensive front, and the Tigers have a number of good rush ends in Marlon Davison, Big Kat Bryant and Nick Coe. Deshaun Davis and K.J. Britt rotate at middle linebacker and both have All-SEC potential.

Strongside linebacker Darrell Davis is good in pass coverage and had a critical breakup in the end zone to preserve Auburn’s lead in the fourth quarter against Washington.

The Tigers have been susceptible to deep passes but strong against the short passing game this season. Auburn allowed several big plays against Washington, when it was flagged four times for pass interference, and gave up a 71-yard touchdown pass to LSU.

Twice against Alabama State, Auburn defensive backs jumped quick-hit routes for interceptions at the line of scrimmage, and Daniel Thomas returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown.

Auburn’s top cover corner is Jamel Dean, who had an interception against Washington.

Auburn on Special Teams

All-American Daniel Carlson is departed and his younger brother Anders Carlson has filled his cleats as the Tigers’ place kicker. The redshirt freshman was 3-for-5 in Auburn’s season-opening win over Washington at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, connecting on field goals of 32, 28 and 53 yards, and missing from 33 and 54 yards. Carlson missed a 52-yard attempt early in the fourth quarter against LSU last week.

Also handling kickoffs, Carlson has an 88 percent touchback rate.

Auburn’s punt return unit blocked a punt against Alabama State and recovered it for a touchdown. Ryan Davis had a 32-yard punt return in the opener and JaTarvious Whitlow had a 36-yard kickoff return last week against LSU.

The Bottom Line

During the same time frame that Arkansas was mired in mediocrity under its former coaching staff, Malzahn was building Auburn into arguably the second-strongest program in the SEC behind Alabama. The Tigers are deeper and more talented than the Razorbacks at probably every position group, and have won big games against the likes of Georgia, Alabama and Washington in the past 10 months.

Playing on the road compounds the problem for Arkansas, which has been worse away from home than at home, where it lost by 27 to North Texas last week.

Given Arkansas’ rebuilding status and Auburn’s solid footing, it is unlikely the Razorbacks will win. Progress might be best gauged by whether Arkansas can keep Auburn from covering the 30-point spread and keep the scoreboard closer than the blowouts of the past two seasons.

Auburn Depth Chart

Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr.

OFFENSE

QB 8 Jarrett Stidham 6-3 215 Jr.

14 Malik Willis 6-1 195 So.

RB 9 Kam Martin 5-10 193 Jr.

28 JaTarvious Whitlow 6-0 216 R-Fr.

WR 81 Darius Slayton 6-2 190 Jr.

11 Shedrick Jackson 6-0 204 Fr.

TE 85 Jalen Harris 6-4 254 Sr.

86 Tucker Brown 6-3 289 Sr.

RT 71 Jack Driscoll 6-5 300 Jr.

68 Austin Troxell 6-6 305 R-Fr.

RG 64 Mike Horton 6-4 324 Jr.

70 Calvin Ashley 6-6 322 R-Fr.

C 54 Kaleb Kim 6-4 300 Jr.

52 Nick Brahms 6-3 304 R-Fr.

LG 77 Marquel Harrell 6-3 307 Jr.

56 Tashawn Manning 6-3 323 R-Fr.

LT 76 Prince Tega Wanogho 6-7 307 Jr.

66 Bailey Sharp 6-5 307 Jr.

WR 17 Marquis McClain 6-2 217 So.

OR 18 Seth Williams 6-3 210 Fr.

WR 80 Sal Cannella 6-5 232 Jr.

19 Matthew Hill 6-1 184 Fr.

DEFENSE

DE 91 Nick Coe 6-5 282 So.

55 T.D. Moultry 6-2 245 So.

DT 95 Dontavius Russell 6-3 320 Sr.

94 Tyrone Truesdell 6-2 314 So.

DT 5 Derrick Brown 6-5 320 Jr.

79 Andrew Williams 6-4 290 Sr.

DE 3 Marlon Davidson 6-3 278 Jr.

1 Big Kat Bryant 6-5 253 So.

MLB 57 Deshaun Davis 5-11 233 Sr.

33 K.J. Britt 6-0 228 So.

WLB 58 Montavious Atkinson 6-1 219 Sr.

28 Zakoby McClain 6-0 205 Fr.

SLB 49 Darrell Williams 6-2 240 Sr.

31 Chandler Wooten 6-2 231 So.

CB 4 Noah Igbinoghene 5-11 196 So.

22 John Broussard Jr. 5-11 181 Jr.

FS 20 Jeremiah Dinson 6-0 195 Jr.

21 Smoke Monday 6-2 188 Fr.

SS 24 Daniel Thomas 5-11 212 Jr.

9 Jamien Sherwood 6-2 207 Fr.

CB 12 Jamel Dean 6-2 208 Jr.

6 Christian Tutt 5-11 195 Fr.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K 26 Anders Carlson 6-5 210 R-Fr.

P 41 Aidan Marshall 5-11 190 So.

H 43 Ian Shannon 6-3 236 Sr.

LS 60 Bill Taylor 6-3 234 R-Fr.

PR 23 Ryan Davis 5-9 185 Sr.

KR 4 Noah Igbinoghene 5-11 196 So.

AND 28 Jatarvious Whitlow 6-0 216 R-Fr.

Arkansas Depth Chart

OFFENSE

QB 4 Ty Storey 6-2 215 R-Jr.

15 Cole Kelley 6-7 258 R-So.

RB 21 Devwah Whaley 5-11 209 Jr.

2 Chase Hayden 5-10 200 So.

WR(9) 16 La’Michael Pettway 6-2 219 Jr.

8 Mike Woods 6-1 190 Fr.

TE 44 Austin Cantrell 6-3 263 Jr.

18 Jeremy Patton 6-5 253 Sr.

RT 60 Brian Wallace 6-6 318 Sr.

78 Dalton Wagner 6-9 300 R-Fr.

RG 62 Johnny Gibson 6-4 324 Sr.

68 Kirby Adcock 6-5 280 R-Fr.

C 51 Hjalte Froholdt 6-5 315 Sr.

57 Shane Clenin 6-6 302 R-Fr.

LG 66 Ty Clary 6-4 287 So.

54 Austin Capps 6-4 311 Jr.

LT 73 Noah Gatlin 6-7 293 Fr.

74 Colton Jackson 6-5 301 Jr.

WR(5) 1 Jared Cornelius 5-11 203 R-Sr.

9 De’Vion Warren 5-10 180 So.

WR(2) 7 Jonathan Nance 6-0 190 Sr.

13 Deon Stewart 5-11 161 Jr.

DEFENSE

DE 3 McTelvin Agim 6-3 279 Jr.

91 Michael Taylor 6-2 248 Sr.

DT 90 Armon Watts 6-5 298 Sr.

7 Briston Guidry 6-2 292 So.

DT 52 T.J. Smith 6-3 304 Jr.

42 Jonathan Marshall 6-3 301 So.

DE 10 Randy Ramsey 6-4 236 R-Sr.

OR 6 Gabe Richardson 6-3 240 Jr.

MLB 8 De’Jon Harris 6-0 244 Jr.

31 Grant Morgan 5-11 220 So.

WLB 23 Dre Greenlaw 6-0 227 Sr.

16 Bumper Pool 6-2 223 Fr.

CB 11 Ryan Pulley 5-11 198 R-Jr.

24 Jarques McClellion 6-0 173 R-Fr.

S 2 Kamren Curl 6-2 201 So.

18 Myles Mason 6-2 208 Fr.

S 9 Santos Ramirez 6-2 204 Sr.

17 Joe Foucha 5-11 198 Fr.

CB 24 Jarques McClellion 6-0 173 R-Fr.

OR 21 Montaric Brown 6-0 187 R-Fr.

NICKEL 36 D’Vone McClure 6-2 215 So.

13 Nate Dalton 6-3 195 Jr.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K 19 Connor Limpert 6-1 175 Jr.

P 28 Reid Bauer 5-11 198 Fr.

H 14 Jack Lindsey 6-2 195 So.

LS 43 George Madden 6-1 212 Jr.

PR 1 Jared Cornelius 5-11 203 R-Sr.

KR 9 De’Vion Warren 5-10 180 So.

2018 Auburn Schedule

Sept. 1 - vs. Washington (in Atlanta), W 21-16

Sept. 8 - Alabama State, W 63-9

Sept. 15 - LSU, L 22-21

Sept. 22 - Arkansas

Sept. 29 - Southern Miss

Oct. 6 - at Mississippi State

Oct. 13 - Tennessee

Oct. 20 - at Ole Miss

Nov. 3 - Texas A&M

Nov. 10 - at Georgia

Nov. 17 - Liberty

Nov. 24 - at Alabama

This article originally appeared in Hawgs Illustrated

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