In anticipation of Saturday's season-opening game, CardinalAuthority.com has reached out to Jason Caldwell of Inside The Auburn Tigers and asked five questions about the Tigers.
1.What is the biggest question mark for the team heading into the opener?
Jason Caldwell: There’s no question the biggest question mark for Auburn heading into Saturday’s game is how the defense will respond under the guidance of Will Muschamp. This is a group that allowed more than 30 points in seven of the last eight games a year ago, but with plenty of talent to work with the expectations are high for the Tigers on that side of the ball right now. With several freshmen expected to play key roles this season, particularly in the secondary, nobody is quite sure of what they’ll see come Saturday other than a defense with plenty of energy. If Auburn can get pressure with the front four against an inexperienced Louisville line it would be a huge first step for the Tigers.
2.What do you feel like the team strength will be this year?
Jason Caldwell: I think the team strength for this group is the skill players on offense. Jeremy Johnson has a ton of talent and with a pretty deep group of wide receivers and running backs the Tigers could have a ton of big plays in 2015. Duke Williams and Ricardo Louis are both big weapons outside in the passing game, but junior college transfer Jason Smith is a player to watch for the Auburn offense. He’s got the ability to make people miss and despite his lack of experience at the position he’s a natural receiver.
3.What newcomers will have a big impact on Saturday?
Jason Caldwell: There are several players that should have a big role for the Tigers with the biggest probably in Auburn’s secondary from transfers Tray Matthews (Georgia) and Blake Countess (Michigan). Both will see plenty of action in the secondary along with four true freshmen; Carlton Davis, Javaris Davis, Jeremiah Dinson, and Tim Irvin. Irvin is listed as the starter at nickel in Will Muschamp’s defense so when Louisville decides to spread the field Irvin will likely be in the game. On offense fullback/H-Back Chandler Cox should be on the field a lot for the Tigers with fellow true freshman Jalen Harris also listed as Auburn’s starter at tight end.
4.Who is the player the opponent better keep a close eye on in game one?
Jason Caldwell: While Jeremy Johnson and Duke Williams would be considered the obvious choices, senior wide receiver Ricardo Louis is the big-play threat for this Auburn offense and will be used in both the passing game and also running the football. Louis has the ability to take it the distance from anywhere on the field and has had a strong fall camp for the Tigers. At 6-2, 215, Louis has the size to be physical but with legit 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash he’s a true weapon for the Tigers.
5.What is the key to victory for Louisville?
Jason Caldwell: The name of the game for Auburn on Saturday will be stopping the running game. Much like Louisville’s defensive gameplan, the Tigers will first have to slow down the run and force the Cardinals to be one-dimensional. That’s something that wasn’t easy for Auburn’s defense at the end of the 2014 season and it bears watching to see just how much improvement they have made in the offseason under Muschamp. Having watched Bobby Petrino’s teams dating back to his days at Auburn, if he can run the football the defense is in big trouble because it opens up the entire playbook for one of the best play callers in college football.