Monday Morning QB Column: Changes On The Way

Looking at some changes coming on offense and defense for the Auburn Tigers heading into 2015.

Back Together Again

It’s going to be an interesting final month of recruiting and then spring practice for the Auburn Tigers with the additions of Will Muschamp and now Travaris Robinson to coach the defense. While Muschamp has been on board for almost a month, Robinson was long thought to be joining the staff, but waited until Florida’s bowl game was finished before the announcement was made.

Much like the excitement when Rodney Garner and Dameyune Craig returned to the Plains, Robinson coming back brings one of the favorite sons back to Auburn. A standout for the Tigers as a safety after being recruited to play wide receiver out of Miami, Robinson is a rising star in the coaching profession who loves Auburn. Even while coaching at Florida he was always checking up on the Tigers and there is nobody who will work harder to help the defense get back to the type of team Auburn was known for putting on the field during his playing days.

With the addition of Muschamp and Robinson, Auburn’s defense is definitely going to get an infusion of excitement, but that’s not all. Even though a lack of pass rush and inconsistent play in the front seven contributed greatly to the defensive problems this season, the secondary allowed too many big plays as well. The good news is some talented players return, including Jonathan Jones, Johnathan Ford, Josh Holsey and Derrick Moncrief along with young talent like T.J. Davis, Stephen Roberts, and Nick Ruffin. Robinson should have some players to work with when the Tigers hit the field in spring practice.

New Look On Offense As Well

It was a pleasure to watch Nick Marshall play one final game at quarterback for Auburn and, despite the loss to Wisconsin, he lived up to the level of play we have seen from him all season long. I am not sure I have seen a player improve more over the course of two seasons than Marshall did at quarterback for the Tigers. Making a move from athlete playing quarterback to full-fledged quarterback in his two seasons at Auburn, Marshall wasn’t always perfect, but showed this season he could stand in the pocket and deliver in the passing game.

That type of offense is what we can expect to see more in the coming seasons with Jeremy Johnson the frontrunner to be the starter heading into the 2015 season. While capable of making plays with his feet in the running game, Johnson’s strength is seeing the field and throwing pinpoint passes from the pocket. With Ricardo Louis stepping up his game, the return of Duke Williams, dependable Marcus Davis, Melvin Ray, and others, Auburn’s passing game should be a strength coming out of the gate next year.

Jeremy Johnson

The running game should still be strong as well with Roc Thomas and Peyton Barber returning and the addition of Jovon Robinson and Kerryon Johnson. One of the keys will be the blocking out of the fullback/H-Back position, something Kamryn Pettway got a head start at during bowl practices. He looks like a natural there and should impact things in a positive way at his new position along with incoming early enrollee Chandler Cox.

Talented Group

We had a glimpse of what the future will look like at the linebacker position during the Outback Bowl when Tre Williams got his most extensive work since early in the season. Showing good instincts to go along with the athletic ability needed to play in the SEC, Williams looks like he’ll be hard to keep off the field next season even if Cassanova McKinzy and Kris Frost both return.

That also may be true of a pair of commitments in the mix. I had the opportunity to see at the Under Armour game over the weekend. Darrell Williams and Richard McBryde were both impressive at the linebacker position and have the talent to make an early impact in Muschamp’s system because of their versatility. Auburn is also in the running for a third linebacker from the Under Armour game, Jeff Holland from Jacksonville, Fla. If he’s added to the group it will be the most promising group of linebackers Auburn has signed in quite some time.

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