Over the next few weeks, SEC Country will take Auburn football fans to Summer School. Each session will focus on one position on Auburn’s 2018 roster, finding answers from spring practice and looking ahead to what might be the biggest questions for the fall.
We continue our look at the secondary this week with the nickel back.
- Javaris Davis (junior)
- Jordyn Peters (sophomore)
- Jayvaughn Myers (sophomore)
Answers from spring practice
If Jeremiah Dinson moves to safety, who replaces him?
With two senior starters at safety now gone in Tray Matthews and Stephen Roberts, the Tigers weren’t going to go with complete inexperience on the back end in 2018. Auburn moved starting nickel Jeremiah Dinson back to free safety, where he will be a key leader for a secondary that has several new starters.
In his place, Auburn slid Javaris Davis over from cornerback. While he started only six games — the first three and the last three — in 2017, Davis was a crucial member of the secondary as one of the Tigers’ top three cornerbacks. One of the fastest players in the country, Davis has the speed to run with anybody, which will be useful at covering slot receivers and attacking the backfield on blitzes.
Is Jordyn Peters ready to challenge for a starting job?
Davis’ move to nickel was even more important this spring when rising sophomore Jordyn Peters injured his knee midway through camp. Peters was challenging for the nickel spot after an impressive first season in which he played the dime back role for the Tigers.
Peters should be a player Auburn relies on this fall, even if he doesn’t start at nickel. He can reclaim his role in dime packages and provide depth at all three positions: cornerback, safety and nickel. Auburn coaches liked what they saw from the Alabama native in 2017. If he can stay healthy, there should be plenty of snaps coming Peters’ way.
Number to know
17: According to Pro Football Focus, Davis allowed 17 yards after the catch last season. That was the best mark of any SEC cornerback who played at least 122 snaps. He also was tops in the conference in yards per snap in coverage.
Javaris Davis in coverage pic.twitter.com/qTWTPZTEQ2
— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 15, 2018
Questions for fall
Will Davis stay at nickel back?
With Noah Igbinoghene’s breakout at cornerback and a quick start for freshman Christian Tutt, Auburn will not have to feel like it must play Davis at his old position this season. Nickel appears to be the best fit for him, as he has the speed and cover skills to excel at the spot in 2018.
Still, if the best option for the secondary will be to play Peters at nickel, Davis could move back. Nothing is set in stone yet with this defense, as Auburn is still two months and change from the opener against Washington. But with the way the Tigers value experience and athleticism at nickel — Dinson and Rudy Ford were stars there — Davis should stay put.
How will the Tigers sort out the dime package?
If Auburn stays the same in the secondary — Jamel Dean and Igbinoghene at cornerback, Davis at nickel, Dinson and Daniel Thomas at safety — the dime package is the last bit of intrigue for a “starting lineup.” Peters would be in line to take a spot, but Dinson and Thomas have experience moving around in these six-defensive back sets.
As the nickel has become the standard package for Auburn’s 4-3 defense, the use of the dime package is growing. Much like the options along the defensive line, the Tigers coaching staff will move pieces to find the best combinations for these situations. Keep an eye on what Auburn does here early in the season.