247Sports makes bold predictions for Auburn’s 2023 season
With the end of spring practice and the closing of the second transfer portal, we now have a better understanding of what each team’s roster is going to look like for the 2023 season and it is time to make predictions.
Brad Crawford, a national writer for 247Sports, made 50 bold predictions about the SEC in the 2023 season recently and several were about Auburn.
Crawford was particularly impressed with Auburn’s efforts to rebuild the offensive line, something the Tigers have been trying to do for the past several years. This work will also help Jarquez Huner, someone, Crawford has high expectations for.
He also doesn’t think Auburn is done in the portal and expects Auburn to land a specific quarterback now that T.J. Finley has moved on.
Here is a look at each of his predictions for Hugh Freeze’s first season as Auburn’s head coach.
The offensive line will get Auburn to a bowl game
Auburn’s rebuilt offensive line will lead to bowl eligibility — Too much is made about the perceived lack of quarterback talent ahead of Hugh Freeze’s first season. He made magic before at the position and deserves the benefit of the doubt there in terms of development. When you consider Auburn’s new offensive line — anchored by three transfers — the Tigers should be able to move the opposition off the ball. More on Auburn’s quarterback situation in a bit.
Auburn has brought in transfers Avery Jones, Gunner Britton, and Dillon Wade to stabilize the unit, and the coaching staff has raved about true freshman Conner Lew, who will have a chance to contribute right away.
This will help whichever quarterback wins the battle, as well as Auburn’s running backs, which are the strength of the offense.
Auburn lands Casey Thompson
Freeze signs a quarterback to battle Robby Ashford and it’s likely Casey Thompson — With Auburn quarterback T.J. Finley in the portal and the job belonging to Ashford for now, the Tigers still need to add competition in their quarterback room from the portal. Thompson might be that guy. Appearing in 19 games at Texas, Thompson completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 2,422 yards and 30 touchdowns while rushing 73 times for 210 yards and five more touchdowns. Thompson had three career games with five or more touchdowns at Texas, the most in Longhorns history. And in his lone season at Nebraska in 2022, Thompson completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,407 yards, 17 touchdowns to 10 interceptions and five rushing touchdowns.
With Finley planning to the portal after graduating, the Tigers are set to have three scholarship quarterbacks for the 2023 season and they are in hot pursuit of a transfer to push for the starting job as well as provide quality depth. Auburn has been connected to Thompson as well as former Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne.
Jarquez Hunter is Auburn's top playmaker
Jarquez Hunter is Auburn’s not-so-secret weapon — Freeze knows he has a diamond in Hunter. This dude figured things out late in the year last fall, surpassing 100 yards in November against Texas A&M, WKU and Alabama. He averaged nearly 9 yards per touch as an all-purpose maven. And given Auburn’s expected depth in the backfield, Hunter should be fresh and not have to handle the load all by himself.
Huner is set to be Auburn’s No. 1 back with Tank Bigbsy in the NFL and it is his time to shine. He’s rushed for 1,268 yards and 10 touchdowns over the past two seasons and averaged an impressive 6.6 yards per carry.
While Auburn has a loaded backfield with Hunter, Brian Battie, and Damari Alston, Hunter should see plenty of carries as Auburn’s featured back.