2018 Auburn Projections on the Hour Glass
By John Luke McCord -
The Auburn Tigers were arguably the nation’s top team following a 26-14 win over Alabama in the Iron Bowl late last November. They were 10-2 heading to the SEC title game to face Georgia, who they had just defeated 40-17 a couple of weeks earlier. In the end they would falter to the Dawgs in that rematch and to UCF in the Peach Bowl, finishing 10-4 thanks to a difficult schedule. Well, the schedule is even more difficult this season - it’s the most difficult in the SEC according to the Hour Glass - with marquee matchups against Washington and Texas A&M, as well as trips to Mississippi State, Georgia and Alabama.
To top it off, the Tigers have plenty of key players to replace. However, the three categories calculated by the HourGlass analytics all indicate the Tigers can overcome those two hurdles. First off, Gus Malzahn, who is preparing for his sixth season as head coach on the Plains, holds an Hour Glass coaching stamp of 12. That trails Kirby Smart by just one point for second in the SEC, and triples the average coaching stamp of 4. Then there’s Auburn’s 3-year recruiting HG stamp of 90.26, which is just .25 behind LSU who sits in third place in the SEC. The roster is talented, but largely unproven. Not at quarterback, though, where Jarrett Stidham returns with an HG quarterback stamp of 17, good enough for fifth best in the SEC. All in all, that comes out to an overall HG stamp of 119.26 for the Tigers, which is comfortably third in the SEC.
Last season Stidham completed 66.5% of his passes for a total of 3,158 yards and 18 touchdowns, and was lethal at times with his accuracy on deep throws. And there’s reason to believe, if the Tigers get quality OL play, that the passing attack can be even better this season with the progression of Ryan Davis, Darius Slayton, Eli Stove, Nate Craig-Myers and others at receiver. However, running back is a real question mark with Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway gone to the NFL. Kam Martin was the second-leading rusher on the team in 2017 with 460 yards on 74 carries, while Eli Stove was third with 318 yards on 30 carries, but a youngster must emerge at this spot. The return of Chandler Cox as the h-back should aid the pass and rush aspects of Chip Lindsey’s offense.
In year one as defensive coordinator Kevin Steele had the Auburn defense ranked 14th in the FBS in total defense, and plenty of familiar faces return on the defense. Leading tackler from from the 2017 season Deshaun Davis returns to lead the linebacker group, while Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson, Nick Coe and Jeff Holland will be hard to deal with up front. Jeremiah Dinson is a name that will be mentioned plenty in the defensive secondary. Overall, the Auburn front seven will again be one of the best in the SEC as well as among the entirety of the power 5.
HG analytics pick: 9-3, 2nd in SEC West
My pick: 10-2, 2nd in SEC West
Last Year’s Analytics Pick 9-3; Actual Record 10-2 (92 percent accuracy)
2018 Auburn Analytics
Hour Glass National Recruiting Ranking: 8th – Inside our Realistic College Football National Championship Line on our talent index.
National Coaching Rank for Gus Malzahn on HG Scale: 16th (Malzahn Stamp at 12) – Average coaching value for 2018 set at 3.75.
Returning Auburn quarterback play rated 21st in the country out of 130 teams. Average quarterback stamp nationally for 2018 is 8.3. Auburn has a stamp of 17.