Next week, SEC head coaches and a select group of players will head to Atlanta to talk to the media. More often than not, players and coaches stick to talking about the first game of the season or speak in broad terms about goals for the season.

It’s only July, but Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham isn’t shying away from bringing up the postseason. There’s no point in dancing around it – the Tigers want to win the SEC and earn a spot in the College Football Playoff. For ESPN’s “50 days, 50 voices: What we’re looking forward to in 2018,” Stidham made it clear that the Tigers are hungry to improve upon a 2017 campaign which included regular-seasons wins over rivals Georgia and Alabama.

“I’m looking forward to us finishing out this season,” Stidham told ESPN. “We were, in my opinion, one quarter away from the College Football Playoff last season, so I’m looking forward to this team getting over that hump. I think we’re going to have a really, really good football team. We may be even better than last year, and I thought last year we were really good. We just didn’t finish the way we wanted to, and the main thing this year is finishing when it matters the most. We don’t want to be just really close again.”

Returning Stidham, who threw for 3,158 yards in 2017, should give AU a high-powered passing offense in 2018. The big questions for Gus Malzahn’s squad will be how it replaces running backs Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway as well as key departures on defense.