Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics
Gus Malzahn won't be happy if Auburn fails to reach its potential.

Auburn football: What’s worst-case scenario for 2018?

SEC Country wants to tackle the best questions from Auburn football and basketball fans. Look for our Auburn Question of the Day most weekdays. Go here to see all of our previous answers.

What’s the worst-case scenario for Auburn football in 2018?

I’m an optimist. Even when things have crashed and burned, I tend to want to find the good in a situation, experience or person.

A lot of sportswriters analyze players and programs and have nothing but negative analysis to offer. I’m the person who chooses to believe that a quarterback will get rid of the yips or that a starting guard will shoot themselves out of a slump. I want college athletes who are trying so hard to succeed to do so.

Still, so much can go wrong in college football so quickly. And it’s difficult not to predict what may happen during the coming season. It’s especially so in the case of a program such as Auburn — the fan base’s morale can shift quickly.

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I’ve written for months that Auburn football will be talented, experienced and capable heading into September. Sure, there are a few things to work out. Every program has that. The Tigers know what it takes to win the SEC West, understand what they are up against and remember what it feels like to get so close to the playoff.

The Tigers could be in for an exciting year. Gus Malzahn’s program could also struggle if certain circumstances come to fruition. Here are a few things that could hurt Auburn football come fall:

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  • Suffering an embarrassing loss to Washington in the opener — Auburn needs to get over the hump and win a game in Atlanta. It’s essentially a home game and the Tigers need a start to the season that will energize the team and get national audiences paying attention. Losing another game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be tough to recover from. It will only make a tough road ahead even rockier.
  • The backfield lacks punch — As fall camp approaches, it seems that Kam Martin is the guy. That could change during the preseason. If Auburn wants to be successful, though, the Tigers need lots of punch from their running backs. Malzahn has been blessed with a 1-2 punch. Having at least one star emerge and lead Auburn’s ground game will make things easier for Jarrett Stidham and his receivers to get things going through the air. Not having that ground game will be devastating. 
  • Injuries compile — News of Auburn’s injuries at the center position this spring made longtime fans hold their breath. There’s nothing more frustrating (as a player or fan) than having potential, starting to reach said potential and then not being able to compete because of an injury. The Tigers have veterans at several positions, but they are also thin at a couple of spots. Health has been an issue for Auburn in the past and if history repeats itself this season it could make for a long 2018.