Are the Tigers in trouble? Well, there’s a reason you are asking or, at the very least, considering that question. Auburn is still nursing the loss of Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams. Their departure will definitely affect the sportsbook odds for 2017 college football season.
Of course, it is easy to try and look at the silver lining, specifically the presence of players like Marlon Davidson, Derrick Brown and Jeff Holland who might have the capacity to make up for Carl and Adams’ departures.
But one cannot ignore the impact Carl and Adams had on Auburn, specifically the fact that they accounted for 14.5 sacks (out of 25) and 34.5 tackles (out of 83) for Auburn’s previous season. Gus Malzahn hasn’t downplayed the significance of their absence.
The team has a void and it must be quickly filled. And no player shows the promise of achieving this objective quite as much as Davidson who looked more like a veteran than a true freshman when he first showed upon on campus.
Boasting the most tackles for any returning defensive lineman during his 13 games and starting down the path to Freshman ALL-SEC honors, Davidson impressed Malzahn from the very beginning, not only with his work ethic but the durability and strength he brought to the table.
Davidson is the sort of player one needs if they are looking to make an impact. With Holland and Brown, you have two players boasting 13 tackles and 11 tackles with two sacks and one sack respectively as sophomores and true freshmen.
Along with Davidson, the pair has quite the burden to carry. Defensive line coach Rodney Garner thinks that Auburn is in good hands. Both Holland and Brown were productive players in 2016. Despite somewhat shaky starts, the players have transformed into mature young men.
And it is obvious that they still have so much more room to grow. They seem to understand the expectations they are carrying but that hasn’t really shaken them. So long as they continue their current trajectory of growth and maturity, those expectations should produce positive results.
If anyone was to disparage the pair, it would have been Ryan Russell, the conditioning coach. But Ryan had nothing but positive things to say about what he saw in the offseason program. He was impressed with the pair’s fervor and determination.
Brown, in particular, is seizing every opportunity that comes his way to push the team to the next level. Brown has a little more leeway than Holland. Certainly, replacing Adams at tackle with Andrew Williams is no simple feat. But Brown has shown that he is more than up to the task.
He isn’t expected to delivering a pass rush off the edge at Buck in a manner similar to what fans saw from Lawson in 2016. That is the unenviable task that Holland will be expected to execute.
It is worth taking into account the difference Paul James III could make for Auburn, considering his breakout performance. With Nick Coe, Markaviest Bryant and Holland in play, there is a reason to be optimistic about Auburn’s future. The departure of Lawson and Adams is no reason to mourn.