Auburn will be a team worth watching next season.
That’s the opinion of Pro Football Focus, which named the Tigers one of five teams “on the rise” for 2017. As described in this piece by PFF’s Gordon McGuinness, Auburn is considered an up-and-coming squad that could contend for a College Football Playoff berth.
Here’s how the Tigers are described in the piece:
Auburn played better than their four-loss record suggests in 2016, but the Tigers were ultimately doomed by not having a passing game to instil any fear in opponents, and what passing game they had fell to pieces when Sean White was out injured. That’s why it’s so key that they landed transfer Jarrett Stidham to lead the offense. Available to play in 2017, the addition of Stidham turns Auburn into a serious College Football Playoff contender if he can recapture the play we saw from him at the end of the 2015 season. In limited duty for Baylor that year, Stidham went 15-for-28 for 596 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception on throws travelling 20 yards or further downfield. In 2016, White, John Franklin III and Jeremy Johnson combined to throw for just 631 yards on those deep throws, so Stidham’s arm adds a vertical aspect that Auburn have been missing.
It’s intriguing to consider what Auburn can accomplish with Stidham in 2017. The Tigers showed flashes of brilliance this season, especially during a stretch in which they won six consecutive games before losing three of their final four contests to close 8-5.
Some considered coach Gus Malzahn’s seat to be a little hot early in the fall, especially after a frustrating loss to Clemson to begin the campaign. (That six-point defeat looks good after Clemson beat Alabama on Monday to win the national title.)
It will be interesting to follow Auburn’s progress. Southern Cal, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Penn State also are featured in the post.