2020 Auburn Defensive Outlook
Before the arrival of defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, the Auburn defense was always trying to catch up to the team’s offense. Since the hiring of Steele in 2016, the Auburn Tigers have finished in the top 20 nationally in total defense each season. In 2019, the Auburn defense ranked 20th in the nation allowing 323.9 yards per game. The unit also ranked 13th in points allowed only giving up 18.6 points per game. If that trend is to continue the Tigers will need to reload at both defensive line and in the secondary after losing six key contributors. Here is a look at the 2020 Auburn defensive outlook:
The Auburn Tigers went into the 2019 season knowing they had one of the absolute best defensive fronts in the nation. They were led by SEC Defensive Player of the Year Derrick Brown at defensive tackle and Marlon Davidson at the end position. Both are now heading to the NFL and not only will their production need to be replaced, but also their leadership.
At the end spot, look for Big Kat Bryant to be that guy that steps up to fill the void. His numbers from last season will not pop out but his size and athleticism make him tough to deal with coming off the edge. Now for the buck position, look for T.D. Moultry and Derick Hall to make a major impact. Hall as a freshman made major strides including being inserted as a starter late in the season.
It is impossible to replace what Brown was able to do in the middle, but Tyrone Truesdell showed flashes last season playing next to Brown accumulating three sacks. Finding the other defensive tackle will be a very intriguing development during fall camp. Daquon Newkirk could be a guy to fill that spot, but Auburn has plenty of other talent that could fill that spot.
The linebackers will be the most experienced unit on defense for Auburn entering the 2020 season. With that experience, leadership should be expected as well. The bulk of the group returns including seniors K.J. Britt and Chandler Wooten. Look for Wooten to play on the outside and Britt on the inside. Britt is the leading returning tackler and finished third on the team in 2019 with 68 total tackles. He also added to the pass rush with 2.5 sacks. Wooten finished the year with 27 tackles and had one interception.
Other linebackers returning are sophomore Owen Pappoe and junior Zakoby McClain. Pappoe had a tremendous freshmen debut collecting 49 tackles and two sacks. McClain had 55 tackles, but his biggest highlight was a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown against Alabama in the Iron Bowl.
Auburn is looking to replace four defensive backs from last seasons team. That includes three seniors in Javaris Davis, Jeremiah Dinson, and Daniel Thomas. Both Dinson and Thomas were leaders at safety and were the two leading tacklers on the team. Good news for Auburn is they have experience coming in to replace them. Juniors Smoke Monday and Jamien Sherwood both saw meaningful playing time last season and made it count. Sherwood collected 43 tackles and Monday added in 20 plus an interception. Like McClain, Monday returned an interception for a touchdown in the Iron Bowl.
Corner is not as cut and dry as safety. Junior Roger McCreary is a player with experience from last season and should fill one of the spots. Someone to lookout for there is sophomore Nehemiah Pritchett. Auburn did sign the nation’s #3 JUCO cornerback in Marco Domio, and he could also push for the position during fall camp. The nickel should be in good hands with both Christian Tutt and Jordyn Peters. Both have shown over their time at Auburn to be play-makers when called upon.