HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — The Auburn Tigers finished 2018 with a record of 8-5 (3-5 in the SEC) but ended on a high note with a 63-14 beatdown of the Purdue Boilermakers in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.
Despite a winning record on the year, the Tigers were unable to do damage in the SEC, with their only win against an above .500 team was Texas A&M at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
This season will be challenging as well considering the Tigers finish the year with home games against Georgia and then Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Both games will have major implications on who will be in the SEC Championship.
Auburn will be moving on from quarterback Jarrett Stidham who moved on to the NFL.
Gus Malzahn enters his seventh season as the head coach of the Tigers and will likely continue his run-heavy strategy on offense as the quarterback situation settles itself out throughout the season.
Defensive tackle Derrick Brown had another great season in 2018 which saw him make the All-SEC second team.
Brown was the catalyst, according to Malzahn, that made seven other seniors decide to stick around for one more year.
A big reason Brown decided to stay was to play in front of the Auburn fanbase again.
“I have said time and time again, I believe we have got the best fans in college football,” Brown said. “They are definitely there right behind us every single Saturday.”
He recorded 48 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as the Tigers’ run stopper in the middle.
Defensive end Marlon Davidson has played in every game since coming to Auburn in 2016 and will likely continue his ironman status in 2019 and keep running backs and quarterbacks inside. He did a great job of it last year but knows he can improve.
“I have been tackling dummies all day. I missed a lot of sacks last year. I was sick about that,” Davidson said. “Waking up every day and thinking that I was so close to making this play or I was this close to making that play. I have been working on finishing the big plays.”
Malzahn called Davidson, “possibly one of the best overall football players I’ve seen at my time at Auburn.”
Tackle and Edgewood Academy alum Prince Tega Wanogho was an All-SEC first-teamer in 2018 and will likely find himself there again this season.
Wanogho graduated in December 2018 and is currently working on his master’s this season. He can more effectively focus on football, more than he did before he became the big man on campus.
“Football started being a big deal for me when I broke my leg in high school playing basketball,” Wanogho said. “After that, I told my mom I am going to play football and stick to it…and I ended up with scholarships.”
At 6-foot-7, 305 pounds, Wanogho is fast enough to handle quicker defensive players and big enough to handle interior linemen as well.
The biggest loss for the Tigers will likely be in the announcers’ booth as the voice of the Auburn Tiger Rod Bramblett passed away in May with his wife Paula.
“[Bramblett] is a guy you don’t replace, he’ll be very well missed,” Malzahn said.
The Tigers’ season begins August 31 against the Oregon Ducks.