Defense Making Progress
Fall camp has to be considered a success for the Auburn Tigers as they get down to business with three work weeks before the season opener against Louisville on Sept. 5. The first thing on the list for the Tigers was to see improvement on defense and so far that has been the case under coordinator Will Muschamp.
Everything on defense starts up front and seeing Carl Lawson’s impact already has to bring a smile to the face of Muschamp, but he’s far from the only guy who has done good things early. Getting Davonte Lambert back on the field has been a big boost for the Tigers on the edge and along with Dontavius Russell and Montravius Adams, Auburn’s front four should be able to put pressure on opposing offenses. That’s something that is a must if the secondary hopes to improve on last year’s problem of giving up big chunks of yardage.
Getting more push up front should help the secondary settle in, something that is still a question mark with the young guys being forced into action at the cornerback position. The good news is that Coach Travaris Robinson feels positive about his newcomer group so far. While Carlton Davis and Javaris Davis were a little more known in the recruiting process, fellow freshman Jeremiah Dinson has come in and hit the ground running. His combination of quickness and cover skills should allow him to help out when the Tigers add a fifth and sixth defensive back this season.
Even though the offense has plenty of things to build on heading into the season there are still questions and they start on the line of scrimmage. There is a difference between questions and concerns, however, and that’s the positive for Coach J.B. Grimes at the moment. Battles at left guard and center are more of a luxury at the moment than a problem as Devonte Danzey has improved his game to challenge Alex Kozan for a starting job and the same is true of Xavier Dampeer in his battle with Austin Golson at center. No matter who wins the jobs the Tigers should have a solid starting five to face Louisville.
Another question for the offense is at wide receiver behind Duke Williams. While Ricardo Louis, Melvin Ray and Marcus Davis have all made plays in the past for the Tigers, finding someone to step up was a concern. Those questions look like they have been answered with the entire group picking up its level of play when Williams was out because of discipline problems.
While many might have considered it a huge negative when Williams was out of practice, Auburn’s players were determined to move forward and nowhere did that happen more than at wide receiver. Louis has shown the ability to be a consistent threat, something that should be huge for Auburn’s offense because of his explosiveness, but he’s not the only one who has won praise from the coaches. Junior Tony Stevens has started to make plays and the extra reps and work he got with Williams out could have been the key to unlocking improved play from a player with plenty of talent. Throw in junior college transfer Jason Smith and speedster Stanton Truitt and you have a group that is anxious to show they’re more than just one player deep.
It’s football season but that didn’t stop Bruce Pearl and the basketball Tigers from grabbing some attention on Sunday with the addition of five-star wing Mustapha Heron from Connecticut. Rated the No. 17 player in the country, Herron chose Auburn over offers from Connecticut, Louisville, Maryland and early favorite St. John’s.
He becomes the highest-rated Auburn commitment since Korvotney Barber in 2005. Vot was a four-star prospect and rated the No. 29 player in the country coming out of Manchester, Ga., High School. Much like Barber, Herron is a player who has a chance to be a difference-maker for the Tigers immediately. Joining with fellow 2016 commitments Jared Harper and Anfernee McClemore, Herron could give the Tigers potentially one of their most talented rosters ever when combined with what should be a really good group of newcomers this season.
Pearl's newcomer group is should add the final piece of the puzzle on Monday when 4-star signee Danjel Purifoy is expected start classes at Auburn. He will become the last signee to make it to campus and he could be the most important of the group because of his ability to contribute early. A player with pro ability and the skill set to be a big asset offensively, Purifoy has catching up to do with the rest of the freshman class but still has plenty of time to get that done.
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