AUBURN | Auburn’s 2017 football schedule includes two tough road games in September, three more in October and two big November rivalry games at home.
Today, we begin an early look at each opponent starting with the opener against Georgia Southern.
WHO: Georgia Southern (5-7 last season, 4-4 in Sun Belt)
WHEN: Sept. 2
WHERE: Jordan-Hare Stadium
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WHAT’S NEW: Bryan Cook was hired from Georgia Tech to coordinate the triple-option offense. Wide receiver Mike Summers, a Georgia Tech transfer, and offensive lineman Jake Edwards, a Georgia transfer, will be eligible to play this season after sitting out last fall.
WHO TO WATCH, OFFENSE: Junior running back Wesley Fields has big-play ability and is the team’s leading returning rusher. He rushed for 492 yards and three touchdowns on 94 carries last season, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He also averaged 16.1 yards and scored three touchdowns on 11 receptions.
WHO TO WATCH, DEFENSE: Junior safety Joshua Moon is the leading returning tackler, totaling 72 stops last season along with 2.5 tackles-for-loss and two interceptions.
OUTLOOK: The Eagles return five starters on an offense that is built to give teams like Auburn fits. The triple option or flexbone offense is unique and will require Auburn’s defense to spend extra time studying and preparing for during the preseason. It’s also in stark contrast to what the Tigers will face a week later at Clemson. GSU is inexperienced at quarterback with sophomore Seth Shuman, redshirt freshman Shai Werts and a couple of others still in the mix for the starting position. There’s four players with starting experience returning on the offensive line in addition to Edwards.
GSU returns five players on defense, but it must rebuild its front seven after several big losses including defensive end Ukeme Eligwe, a fifth-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs. Second-year head coach Tyson Summers has a defensive background so you’d expect the unit to show some improvement after ranking 58th nationally in 2016 allowing 396.6 yards per game.
AUBURN CONNECTION: Former Auburn staff assistant Chad Lunsford is the GSU assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and in charge of slot receivers and H-backs. Former Auburn associate AD and Troy AD Steve Dennis is the Director of Football Administration.