Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and his 2.5 million dollar-per-year salary must replace two defensive line stars and four secondary starters for the 2020 season. Gone are All American defensive tackle Derrick Brown who was selected 7th by the Carolina Panthers in the 2020 NFL Draft. Joining Brown in the Draft was fellow defensive line mate Marlon Davidson who was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2nd round. The duo combined for an eye popping 103 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, and 9.5 QB Sacks in 2019. Let’s take a deeper look at the 2020 Auburn Tiger defense.
Auburn returns all four linebackers which comprise one of the best units in the nation. K.J. Britt leads the linebacker corps after racking up 69 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 2.5 QB sacks a year ago. Big Kat Bryant plays the “Buck” LB position and is poised for a breakout season in the SEC. Joining Bryant and Britt are Owen Pappoe and Zakoby McClain. Pappoe is considered to be a rising star in the Southeastern Conference after registering 49 tackles, 2 QB Sacks, 2 Pass Breakups, and 4 QB Hurries in his freshman year. The only returning secondary starter is Nickel or “Star” Christian Tutt. Tutt accumulated 32 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 QB Sack, and 1 Interception in 2019.
While Auburn took a hard hit to graduation and the NFL, don’t feel sorry for War Eagle. New starters played significant backup roles and are extremely talented. However, catching a defense that is replacing two highly drafted defensive linemen and 4/5 secondary members could be the best week-1 scenario for the Wildcats.
- DE-Derrick Hall 6’3 238 Sophomore.
- NT-Tyrone Truesdell 6’2 326 Senior
- DT-Daquan Newkirk 6’3 317 Senior
- BUCK-Big Kat Bryant 6’5 250 Senior
- OLB-Zakoby McClain 6’0 210 Junior
- MLB-Owen Pappoe 6’1 222 Sophomore
- OLB-K.J. Britt 6’0, 236 Senior
- CB-Roger McCreary 6’0 188 Junior.
- STAR-Christian Tutt 5’11 192 Junior
- SS-Jamien Sherwood 6’2 220 Junior
- FS-Smoke Monday 6’2 196 Junior
*On September 6th, AL.com reported that starting defensive tackle Coynis Miller was no longer on the team.
CONDENSED 2019 STATISTICS
- Scoring Defense-Allowed 19.5 points-per-game, SEC 6th
- Rushing-123.15 ypg, SEC-4th
- Passing-213.8 ypg, SEC-9th
- Total-337 ypg, SEC-7th
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?
Kentucky will go against one of the top linebacker groups in all of college football on week one. The Cats will also go against a defense that is replacing four out of five defensive back starters along with a couple defensive linemen that are now playing on Sundays. I like this matchup for Eddie Gran and company.
One interesting tidbit to pay attention to is the size and physicality of Auburn’s starting safeties. Strong Safety Jamien Sherwood measures 6’2, 220 and Free Safety Smoke Monday goes 6’2, 196. There’s only a hand full of safety combinations that are physically able to stand up to Kentucky’s hard-nosed, down-hill run game that features three, 200-pound running backs and one of the nation’s top offensive lines.
I like Kentucky’s offensive line vs. Auburn’s defensive front. The Tigers will be talented, but somewhat inexperienced after replacing Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson who combined for 103 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, and 9.5 QB Sacks a year ago. More to come on the Kentucky vs. Auburn pending matchup.