Talking days are done and the time in Hoover, Ala., did exactly what it was supposed to: increase the anticipation and heighten the expectations for Auburn football.
Coach Gus Malzahn and his player representatives were all asked about Jarrett Stidham and the quarterback competition that will rage this fall (at least for a little while), but for the most part the Tigers had a quiet day. Still, Malzahn hasn’t been shy about his expectations for his squad.
“And probably the biggest thing that’s standing out to me about this team, that they’re hungry,” he said. “They’re hungry and they’ve got something to prove. And really the last time I felt this was 2013.”
If you want confirmation on what you’re probably already thinking, yes — 2013 was the miraculous season where Auburn ended up playing for the BCS title at the Rose Bowl.
Friday marks 50 days until kickoff on Sept. 2 and here are 50 reasons Auburn fans should get pumped about the 2017 season.
50 | LSU
In 50 games against LSU, Auburn is 22-28. Malzahn’s team is set to travel to Baton Rouge, La., in mid-October and the game in Tiger Stadium will be one of the most important on Auburn’s schedule.
49 | Family:
— Auburn Football (@AuburnFootball) June 15, 2017
48 | Auburn’s linebacker unit
Coached by former Auburn player Travis Williams, they always provides entertainment …
47 | Case in point
— Coach T-Will (@T_WILL4REAL) April 1, 2017
46 | Salvatore Cannella
45 | John Samuel Shenker
The freshman had quite the journey to Auburn. The Georgia, native could have a big season as a tight end in Chip Lindsey’s new offense.
44 | Daniel Carlson
He made all of his 44 PAT attempts last season. Again, think Lou Groza Award.
43 | He’s baaaack
After missing all of spring practice Kyle Davis might take some time to get rolling with Auburn’s wide receivers, but the rising sophomore could be primed for a big season. Take another look at this 43-yard reception from Sean White against Clemson:
— Athletic Recruiting (@ncsa) September 12, 2016
42 | Missouri
The Tigers scored 42 points against Auburn in the 2013 SEC Championship Game — and lost. The teams meet again on Sept. 23 in Columbia with Mizzou looking to even the score.
41 | Al Borges
He is back at Auburn as an offensive analyst. During his four seasons as Auburn’s offensive coordinator (2004-07), Auburn won 41 games with only nine losses.
40 | Kevin Steele
Starting at Tennessee, he has been coaching since 1980 . That’s almost 40 years and valuable experience that will matter for Auburn this season.
39 | Kamryn Pettway
He emerged in Auburn’s 38-14 victory against Mississippi last season when he carried the ball 39 times for 169 yards and three touchdowns.
38 | Daniel Carlson
The third time is the charm for Auburn’s No. 38. The rising senior headlined the Lou Groza Award watch list and is expected to finally earn the official recognition for being the best kicker in the country.
37 | Austin Golson
His jersey number is actually 73, but the center landed on the Remington Trophy watch list. Think Reese Dismukes in 2014.
36 | Did we mention Kamryn Pettway?
He’s worth repeating.
— Chris Renkel CBS 42 (@Chris_Renkel) October 23, 2016
35 | The Jacksons
It’s been nearly 35 years since Bo Jackson went over the top to defeat Alabama. Auburn received a commitment from Jackson’s nephew Shedrick, earlier this spring.
C O M M I T T E D✊🏾
Thankful to have this opportunity! pic.twitter.com/LgvH7Eh3hF
— Shedrick Jackson (@shedrickj85) June 26, 2017
34 | Sammie Coates
The former Auburn wide receiver caught a 34-yard touchdown in the 2014 Iron Bowl against Alabama. The Tigers need someone to bring the same big-play ability Coates was known for when the rivals meet again on Nov. 25.
33 | Will Hastings
The name of the player who wore No. 33 at Auburn came up a lot during spring football. And yes, Hastings is still being compared to the New England Patriots’ Wes Welker.
32 | Malik Miller
Auburn’s No. 32 showed flashes of what he could do in in 2016. He received a medical redshirt after suffering a knee injury and could be a key rusher for coach Tim Horton.
31 | Les-less LSU
Auburn and LSU combined for 31 points in AU’s 18-13 victory last season at Jordan-Hare. The game that played a role in the firing of LSU coach Les Miles and propelled Auburn to six consecutive wins.
30 | Tre’ Williams
Auburn’s No. 30 is looking to have the kind of season at linebacker that will raise his NFL draft stock. Expect big hits from the senior.
29 | JaTarvious Whitlow
He didn’t have to travel far to get to Auburn. The LaFayette, Ala., native was recruited as an athlete and might get a shot to be a rusher in fall camp.
28 | Tray Matthews
The former Georgia safety who led Auburn with 76 tackles last season has come a long way. He’s the “CEO” of Auburn’s defense and also already landed on the watch list for the Chuck Badnarik Award as the nation’s premier defensive player.
27 | Chandler Cox
Auburn’s No. 27 is an energy guy. It won’t be long before the team’s unofficial hype man is turning up the volume before practice:
Still laughing about how pumped Auburn fullback Chandler Cox was for practice today. pic.twitter.com/aEgO0rRwRj
— Lauren Shute (@LShute13) December 31, 2016
26 | More Carlson
That’s what’s going to happen when Anders Carlson, Auburn’s No. 26, joins his older brother Daniel this fall.
25 | Iron Bowl
This year’s Auburn-Alabama game is Nov. 25 at Jordan-Hare and won’t lack for anticipation. Last year’s Iron Bowl could have decided a lot if Auburn hadn’t fallen off after injuries at the end of the season.
24 | Daniel Thomas
He made sure people would remember his name and No. 24 when he came up with two interceptions against Alabama in Bryant-Denny. The rising sophomore could play a much bigger role than backup for the Tigers defense this season.
23 | More Missouri
Missouri believes its Sept. 23 meeting with Auburn could be a ‘statement game’ for both teams.
22 | More Steele
Videos from Auburn defensive meetings, where it’s unlikely but possible that Kevin Steele could make his dancing debut:
— Coach T-Will (@T_WILL4REAL) December 22, 2016
21 | Traivon Leonard
At SEC Media Days, Tray Matthews said Leonard — Auburn’s No. 21 — has looked the best of all the freshman defensive backs. Leonard, who had an unusually tough upbringing, have a shot to play quickly.
20 | Bama bammers
Tre’ Williams and Deshaun Davis combined for 20 tackles against Alabama — both with a team-leading 10. The pair have been friends since they were young and it’s their last chance to play together.
19 | Nick Ruffin
Auburn’s No. 19 is another senior who will shine in Auburn’s secondary alongside Tray Matthews.
18 | Jayvaugn Myers
Auburn’s No. 18, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last year, is a huge motivating factor for brother Nate Craig-Myers. That could be dangerous.
17 | Braden Smith
Braden Smith’s jersey is actually No. 71, but there’s only a short period before the “freak” — as he’soften been called — will be back to pancaking defenders in the trenches.
16 | Mercer
The FCS Bears plays at Auburn on Sept. 16, the last game for the Tigers before their SEC schedule picks up.
15 | Jordyn Peters
The freshman DB Jordyn Peters, who will wear No. 15, should add to Auburn’s depth at safety.
14 | Malik Willis
The true freshman often brings to mind former Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, who also wore No. 14. That’s not a bad comparison for a new QB to have.
13 | ’13 expectations
This season will affect the temperature of Malzahn’s seat, but that hasn’t stopped the head coach from comparing his 2017 team to the 2013 squad that came within seconds of winning the national championship. The words “national championship” have been uttered the last few months and reverberate at the Athletic Complex.
12 | Jamel Dean
Auburn’s No. 12 was competing for a starting spot in the secondary last year before a season-ending knee injury during fall camp. Fortunately, Dean had Washington Redskins DB Josh Holsey to help walk him through his recovery.
11 | Georgia
The Deep South’s oldest rivalry will be a patriotic meeting on Nov. 11 — Veteran’s Day. Expect an insane atmosphere in Jordan-Hare and a critical meeting with the SEC East preseason favorites.
10 | Charles Barkley
There’s a chance Barkley’s statue in front of Auburn Arena could be unveiled during the football season — Oct. 10, three days after Auburn plays Ole Miss. Whenever it happens, fans can expect a visit from the greatest athletes in the school’s history — Barkley and Bo Jackson.
9 | Byron Cowart
Teammates have said Auburn’s No. 9 looks like a completely different player after moving from defensive end to defensive tackle during the spring.
8 | SEC games
Auburn finished its eight-game SEC slate at 5-3 in 2016. The Tigers’ should improve on their final conference record.
7 | Points
If Auburn had been able to score more than 7 points between the hedges in Athens, Ga., the Tigers may have come away with a win instead of a 13-7 loss at Georgia last season. Scoring might not be a problem this season, though.
6 | Clemson
Auburn lost by six points —19-13 — to eventual national championship Clemson last year. The Tigers meet again on Sept. 9 at Clemson and a win would propel Auburn on its own title track.
5 | Marlon Davidson
Opponents are going to be focused on Auburn’s No. 5, a sophomore defensive end, which could clear the path for a monster season from Derrick Brown.
4 | Georgia and Alabama
Malzahn can’t lose to Georgia and Alabama four consecutive times. Right now the streak is at 3. The good news is the head coach’s plan is to beat both teams on the Plains.
3 | Quarterbacks
Auburn struggled to find a backup quarterback in recent seasons. Now, especially after SEC Media Days, one of the things to be most excited about is depth at quarterback with Jarrett Stidham, Sean White and Malik Willis. Malzahn has a plan.
2 | Steele’s second season
Kevin Steele is in year two as Auburn’s defensive coordinator — and that’s big. Auburn has lacked consistency on defense as a revolving door of coaches have come through. There have been whispers about the defense, but with the long-time coaching vet back in charge, expectations should be high.
1 | Markaviest Bryant
Big Cat will wear No. 1 this season. Though just a freshman, Big Cat is Montravius Adams’ cousin and has been groomed to contribute immediately. There’s a good chance fans may see that No. 1 jersey and experience deja vu thinking of the third round draft pick who landed with the Green Bay Packers earlier this spring.
And circle these key dates for the Tigers: The first practice is July 31 and the first game is Sept. 2 vs. Georgia Southern.
Contributing: Justin Ferguson