5 Auburn players with the most to prove down the stretch
Coming off this weekend’s bye, the Auburn Tigers have a tough home stretch, with a game at Texas A&M next Saturday and home games against Georgia, Louisiana-Monroe and Alabama.
At 6-2 on the season, coach Gus Malzahn needs a strong finish in order to keep his job, as fans are growing increasingly frustrated with 8-4 regular-season records.
Therefore, the Tigers are going to need to beat the Aggies on the road and also take care of business against either Georgia or Alabama to keep the heat off their coach.
Though many Auburn players on both sides of the ball are already having fantastic seasons, a few more will need to step up over the next month if the Tigers want to pull off some upsets.
Here are five players with room to improve in Auburn’s final four games of the year:
WR Darius Slayton
Since the dismissal of Kyle Davis, Slayton has seen a bigger role and has made the most of it, turning in a few big plays.
So far this year, he has 11 catches for 302 yards and two touchdowns. That’s an impressive 27.5 yards per catch, but the Tigers will need him to increase the quantity of his receptions while still maintaining the quality.
That will be easier said than done against teams such as Georgia and Alabama, but big-time players step up in important moments, so it’ll be interesting to see how Slayton responds.
DE Marlon Davidson
Davidson was supposed to step in and take over for departed star Carl Lawson, who is now a member of the Cincinnati Bengals.
However, thanks to a slew of injuries, Davidson has been overshadowed by LB Jeff Holland, who leads the team with 7.5 sacks.
Davidson has 2.5 sacks, but if he got healthier over the bye week, he could play a big role in the Tigers’ upcoming games.
QB Jarrett Stidham
Stidham has really settled in to the Auburn offense after somewhat of a rough start, but he hasn’t lived up to his explosive potential.
After showing signs of brilliance at Baylor his freshman year, he hasn’t had the freedom to show what he can do so far at Auburn, throwing for only eight touchdowns through eight weeks.
As a player who has the talent to be one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC, Stidham could be the key to a huge win against either Georgia or Alabama.
DB Carlton Davis
Davis has been one of the leaders of the Auburn secondary this year, but the Tigers’ defensive backs haven’t made too many big plays.
The junior leads the team with eight passes defensed, but he only has one interception (tied for the team lead with three other players).
In order to beat the Bulldogs or the Crimson Tide, the Auburn secondary has to make a big play against QBs Jake Fromm and Jalen Hurts, and Davis has shown he has a nose for the ball, so he could be the one to step up in those important games.
WR Eli Stove
Stove has been an X-factor for the Tigers this year, averaging 15 yards per carry and 10.5 yards per catch.
However, despite showing signs of explosive potential, the sophomore has yet to find the end zone through eight games.
As first-year offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey gets more comfortable with Stove’s skill-set, he should see more work. It’s not hard to imagine a Stove touchdown on a sneak play shifting the momentum down the stretch of a big game.