When an Auburn fan is asked what the Tigers’ most pressing issue is, you could hear a wide variety of answers. You could start with Bryan Harsin handling the pressure in 2022. Following the failed coup prior to the season, it would be hard to ignore the target on his back it would seem.
Or perhaps we have it all wrong, after all, Gus Malzahn faced this same sort of dilemma during his tenure on the Plains. Regardless if you view Harsin as a pressing issue, there are certainly others. The quarterback conundrum is definitely on top of my list. There there are questions about wide receivers and the offensive line. Those are just on one side of the ball.
Could it be that the defense could be the more pressing question for War Eagle? The team is losing Roger McCreary, Smoke Monday, and Zakoby McClain from last year’s team to the NFL draft. The other is Chandler Wooten, who became a team captain.
On3’s Jesse Simonton laid out the most pressing question for each SEC school and his choice for Auburn goes against the grain. Not that the issue isn’t a pressing one, most analysts just begin with the signal-caller.
Next, we look at Simonton’s question.
What Simonton Says…
Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK
Do the Tigers have enough front-seven depth to survive the SEC grind?
Obviously, the quarterback battle on the Plains is the primary question that must be answered before the fall, but entering the offseason, Bryan Harsin must decide if he should hit the transfer portal for more defensive line and linebacker depth.
The Tigers’ starting DL looks quite solid — edges Derick Hall and Eku Leota and interior linemen Colby Wooden, Jayson Jones, an Oregon transfer, and Marcus Harris. But depth is a major concern after eight players entered the transfer portal. The Tigers need more complimentary pieces surrounding Wooden and Harris, so it’s a big offseason for guys like Jeffrey M’ba, Marquis Burks and Zykeivous Walker.
The staff has also challenged former blue-chip recruit Dylan Brooks to at least give them something as an edge presence behind Hall and Leota.
Auburn’s linebacker room is also undergoing a rebuild, as it lost close to 200-combined tackles from Zakoby McClain and Chandler Wooten. Owen Pappoe returned to school, but he’s struggled to stay healthy and was out during the spring. Are Wesley Steiner and Cam Riley, two mostly unproven pieces, ready to carry the load?
They might have to be.