Editor’s Note: It’s a crucial year in Auburn. Gus Malzahn enters his fourth season in a bit of a rut, but he has proven he can quickly change the trajectory of the program when his team’s back is against the wall.
Auburn needs to find a quarterback, develop receivers and lean on a defense many expect to be much improved under coordinator Kevin Steele. Will all of the pieces come together in time for a successful season?
SEC Country takes a look at the 25 Most Important Tigers (and others) who will determine whether Auburn’s season is a success or failure.
24. Leonard Fournette, LSU running back
The best running back in the SEC is back, and he sure does have Auburn’s number.
He’s not your typical running back — even if Auburn safety Rudy Ford tempted fate by saying he was just another player last season — and the Tigers learned that the hard way. Fournette gutted the Tigers for 228 yards on only 19 carries. His first run went for 71 yards, shifting his Heisman Trophy campaign into high gear.
“If you talk trash coming into our house, we have to defend our house,” Fournette said after the game. “We all saw what he said and took it under consideration.”
Then there was that tackle attempt by Tray Matthews, which will be played again and again leading up to LSU’s trip to Auburn on Sept. 24.
Auburn’s defensive line is supposed to be the strength of the team, and it’s time to prove it. If Auburn can’t stop Fournette, the visiting Tigers will walk out of Jordan-Hare Stadium with an early-season victory — and send doubts through the Auburn fan base about the remainder of the season.
Coming Wednesday: Ford tough
- No. 25 — Josh Holsey, cornerback/safety