In an earlier post, we took a look at the starters on offense for Auburn in the upcoming season opener this Saturday against Clemson. Today we will turn our attention to the defensive side of the ball. So, let's get to it.
When Brian VanGorder arrived at Auburn he promise that everyone would have to start over and earn their job. That meant some new faces would be seen in some areas of the team, and that even the true freshmen would be able to compete for a spot in the rotation.
On the defensive front you will see a lot of familiar faces. Many of these guys have played, and or started for the Tigers in the past two seasons. The most surprising item to note is that Nosa Eguae, who sat out the spring with an injury is listed as third string at both sides of the defensive end position.
Once again we will use the rivals.com rating system to show the projected potential these players were thought to have coming out of high school. The roster looks like this:
Defensive End - Dee Ford 3* & Corey Lemonier 4*
Defensive Tackle - Angelo Blackson 3* & Jeff Whitaker 4*
Middle Linebacker - Jake Holland 4*
Outside Linebacker - Jonathan Evans 2* & Darren Bates 3*
Cornerback - Chris Davis 3* & Ryan White 3*
Safety - Jermaine Whitehead 4* & Ryan Smith 3*
All together Auburn is returning 9 players on defense that at least played during some games last season. That game experience will bode well in many respects. Learning a new system and applying the new concepts in the heat of battle will be much easier for the players that have previous game time. Leaving the the two others who have very little experience with someone close by to guide them along.
I look for the Tigers to be much improved in tackling, and reading what the offenses throw at them during each game. Therefor leading Auburn to a much better defense overall.
The star power may not equal that of the offensive side of the ball, but it makes up for it in game experience, and that has much more potential for a successful season.