Perhaps the most likely candidate to move into that role is senior Antoine Carter. With five and a half sacks in his first three seasons, the Ft. Lauderdale native has been mostly a backup for Coleman until last season when he moved to the side opposite his good friend. Despite playing through some pain early in the year he managed 30 tackles and four and a half tackles for losses in 10 games.
Those numbers only scratch the surface for Carter as he's shown signs of becoming a dominant player for coach Ted Roof's unit this fall. Carter said that's his only goal at the moment, to be a disruptive force.
"I'm going to be the man," Carter said. "I'm going to be coming off the edge hitting quarterbacks. That's my goal."
In addition to being one of the top returning players on the defense, Carter is also one of the most experienced. Because of that one of his jobs is to take players such as Nosa Eguae, Dee Ford, and Craig Sanders under his wing to show them the ropes. He began to do that in the spring and said it's a little different for him, but he's getting used to the idea.
"It's a lot different because I have to open up my mouth more and talk to the younger guys," Carter said. "I'm not just following. It's more of a leadership role. I'm showing the younger guys the way to do things."
Eguae is a player that has been talked about since arriving at Auburn last summer. Before injuring his foot the week of the first game and being forced to redshirt, the Texas native was making a push for playing time. Carter said it's easy to see that the redshirt freshman has a bright future because of how he approaches the game.
"Nosa is going to be pretty good," Carter said. "He's a great learner. He listens to you. He's very coachable. He reminds me of myself because he listens."
One of several players in this year's senior class that didn't redshirt, Carter is now heading into his fourth and final season with Auburn. With that in mind he said for him it's all about making every day count.
"It's hard because every day is my last," Carter said. "The time has gone by so fast. It doesn't really seem like it's my fourth year, but it's here. I just have to make the best of it."
That work began almost as soon as spring practice was done in April. Hitting the weight room with coach Kevin Yoxall, the Tigers will take a short break for finals and to have a trip home before they return to workouts that will last all the way up to two-a-days in August with a short break around the Fourth of July. That's something that Carter said the young players will have to get used to and know that everything is done to make the team better when the action gets underway in the fall.
"There's not really any time for a break," Carter said. "The hardest part about it is just getting them to know that you have to be consistent. You have to be consistent, not on and off. Playing in the SEC, going back to last year, we didn't finish games. When you're tired and beat up you've got to keep going. That's what we're working on this year."