The Auburn Tigers enter the bye week with a 5-3 record and a tough schedule entering the final weeks of the regular season. A 31-16 win versus Ole Miss in their last week gives the team a breather and time to prepare for a Jimbo Fisher-led Aggies team at the start of November. However, No. 16 Texas A&M isn’t the only ranked team Auburn needs to worry about, with No. 7 Georgia after the Aggies and top-ranked arch-rival Alabama in the final week. All in all, the road to bowl eligibility becomes an important topic for Head Coach Gus Malzahn’s team.
Recorded five tackles including 3.5 QB sacks (most by an @AuburnFootball player since 2006) and 3.5 tackles for loss.@NIckCoe_34 is the #SECFB Defensive Lineman of the Week. pic.twitter.com/FlMaGepT5v
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) October 22, 2018
War Eagle With Rough Battles Ahead
The remaining schedule may be worrying to Tigers fans who hope Auburn make a bowl game. The game versus Liberty is the only game remaining versus a non-conference foe and a non-ranked team. With Alabama most likely winning the SEC West, Auburn sits in a situation where landing a high-tier bowl game is essential. Therefore, returning into the AP Poll by winning out is a difficult, yet achievable goal.
Malzahn said the team is happy to enter the bye week and praised Texas A&M.
Players now have the chance to fight for a better spot in the depth chart with the extra week of practice. Malzahn and his coaching staff are using this week to evaluate the team and see who could be weapons going into the end of the regular season. Auburn already played a scrimmage which included the younger players who don’t get a lot of minutes this past Tuesday. With that, the state of some players on the team remains in question.
For instance, freshman running back Asa Martin will not redshirt this season, according to Malzahn, despite being fifth on the depth chart. However, Martin can earn more minutes if he proves himself in practice versus the other running backs.
Additionally, Malzahn commented on the experience and performance of redshirt freshman offensive lineman Austin Trovell against Ole Miss.
Auburn will rely on quarterback Jarrett Stidham to improve after managing only eight touchdowns before the bye week. Despite the Tigers ranking 34th in total defense, they will need to move up from the 79th position in total offense if they want to win these competitive games.
The Tigers will battle the Aggies at home in an SEC West battle on Nov. 3.