The Auburn Tigers could have lost a lot of talent last year to the NFL Draft, yet instead, eight of them stayed and most notably, they will return one of the best defensive lines in college football.

“Defensively, I believe we have a chance to be the best defense that we have at least in the ten years I’ve been at Auburn,” head coach Gus Malzahn said. “It really starts with our defensive line, and the three guys that chose to come back, with Derrick (Brown), Marlon (Davidson) and the addition of Nick Coe. With the other guys they have, we really feel like we have a chance to be dominant on the defensive line.”

Offensively, the Tigers will return their top two running backs, senior Kam Martin and sophomore JaTarvious Whitlow, sophomore wide receiver Seth Williams along with their entire offensive line, who struggled last season mostly due to inexperience.

“They went through some growing paints last year, they got beat up,” Malzahn said. “They kind of got an edge about them. They went through spring against our defensive line and really held their own. They got something to prove, and I feel really good about that group.”

While the Tigers return a lot of their starters, their biggest question mark will be their quarterback. With Jarrett Stidham now gone, the quarterback battle seems to be down to two: redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood and freshman Bo Nix.

“Talking about this season offensively, our big question is our quarterback situation,” head coach Gus Malzahn said. “Joey Gatewood and Bo Nix, two freshmen fighting for the position. Both of them are very athletic. They can create things when things breaks down. They have big-time arms. Both of them are really hungry for the job. We’ll figure out in fall camp. We’ll name a starter and figure which of those two guys gives us the best chance of winning.”

The Tigers will open the season in Arlington, Texas, against the Oregon Ducks before hosting Tulane and Kent State. The Tigers will then start SEC play with three of their four games on the road, however they will host all four November games, including Georgia and Alabama.

2018 record: 8-5 (3-5 conf./5th-SEC West)
All-time SEC championships: 8
All-time bowl appearances: 43 (24-17-2)

2018 results
Sept. 1 vs. Washington W 21-16
Sept. 8 vs. Alabama State W 63-9
Sept. 15 vs. LSU L 22-21
Sept. 22 vs. Arkansas W 34-3
Sept. 29 vs. Southern Miss W 24-13
Oct. 6 at Mississippi State L 23-9
Oct. 13 vs. Tennessee L 30-24
Oct. 20 at Ole Miss W 31-16
Nov. 3 vs. Texas A&M W 28-24
Nov. 10 at Georgia L 27-10
Nov. 17 vs. Liberty W 53-0
Nov. 24 at Alabama L 52-21
Dec. 28 vs. Purdue W 63-14

Starters returning: 16 Offense: 7 Defense: 7 Specialty: 2
Starters lost: 8 Offense: 4 Defense: 4 Specialty: 0
Returning offensive starters: Kam Martin (RB, Sr.), Seth Williams (WR, So.), Prince Tega Wanogho (LT, Sr.), Marquell Hall (LG, Sr.), Kaleb Kim (C, Sr.), Mike Horton (RG, Sr.), Jack Driscoll (RT, Sr.)
Returning defensive starters: Nick Coe (Buck, Jr.), Derrick Brown (DT, Sr.), Marlon Davidson (DE, Sr.), Javaris Davis (DB, Sr.), Noah Igbinoghene (DB, Jr.), Daniel Thomas (DB, Sr.), Jeremiah Dinson (DB, Sr.)

Returning statistical leaders
Rushing Att Yards Avg TD
JaTarvious Whitlow 150 827 5.2 6
Passing Att Yards Avg TD
Malik Willis 7 24 3.4 0
Receiving Att Yards Avg TD
Seth Williams 26 534 20.5 5
Tackles Total Int Sack TFL
Daniel Thomas 74 2 0 2

2019 schedule
Aug. 31 vs. Oregon
Sept. 7 vs. Tulane
Sept. 14 vs. Kent State
Sept. 21 at Texas A&M
Sept. 28 vs. Mississippi State
Oct. 5 at Florida
Oct. 19 at Arkansas
Oct. 26 at LSU
Nov. 2 vs. Ole Miss
Nov. 16 vs. Georgia
Nov. 23 vs. Samford
Nov. 30 vs. Alabama