SEC Football Q&A: Will Auburn's Defense Help It Win a Title in the Next 2 Years?

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJanuary 17, 2014

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn
Auburn head coach Gus MalzahnChris Carlson/Associated Press

Every Friday, we feature questions from the Bleacher Report inbox, Twitter and email at

You have SEC questions, and I have SEC answers. Thank you for your questions. If I didn't get to them this week, they will be saved and used in the future.

And we're off! 

@BarrettSallee can auburn win the championship in the next two years with the defensive recruits they have coming in?

— sa〽️ kiñg (@_imsamking_) January 8, 2014

It will certainly be in position to do so based on how things are going on the Plains.

Auburn has to replace some key contributors on the defensive line, but that's one area where it is set. Where it's not is in the back seven, and that's where this recruiting class is loaded with talent that can and should step in and shine immediately.

Derrick Moncrief is a 6'3", 226-pound 4-star safety from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College who should step in at boundary safety for Ryan Smith. 5-star linebacker commit Tre' Williams can step in and contend for immediate playing time in a position that has seemingly been a constant sore spot for the Tigers, and cornerbacks Kalvaraz Bessent, Stephen Roberts and Nick Ruffin should provide depth at cornerback and push returning starter Jonathan Mincy.

If head coach Gus Malzahn can close with 5-star linebacker Rashaan Evans, the Tigers will have plenty of pieces to a championship puzzle.

Add in what should be another potent offense led by quarterback Nick Marshall, and Auburn can absolutely win the title in the next two seasons.

This time around, the Tigers have staying power.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn
Auburn head coach Gus MalzahnChris Carlson/Associated Press


@BarrettSallee what do you think of Arkansas QB situation.

— John Stull (@870_hogfan) January 9, 2014

It's going to be an interesting spring, that's for sure.

Brandon Allen wasn't exactly stellar last season, completing 49.6 percent of his passes (128-of-258) for 1,552 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. But he separated his shoulder in third game of the season against Southern Miss and was never really the same. 

His brother Austin Allen, senior A.J. Derby, redshirt freshman Damon Mitchell and true freshman early enrollee Rafe Peavey will all have the chance to win the job this spring. 

One of those players has to step up, and Peavey may be the guy. The 6'2", 212-pound 4-star prospect has a big arm and can make things happen with his legs. He could provide offensive coordinator Jim Chaney a nice weapon if head coach Bret Bielema wants to open the offense up a bit.

Overall, though, it's still going to be a work in progress unless somebody—whether it's Allen or one the contenders—takes a major step forward.

Arkansas QB Brandon Allen
Arkansas QB Brandon AllenApril L Brown/Associated Press


@BarrettSallee Hey who do u think will win more games in the next 7 yrs? Arkansas or Louisville?

— Jason Parker (@JaParker13) January 11, 2014

Louisville, for sure.

Arkansas is still in full-on rebuilding mode thanks in part to the lack of talent leftover from the Bobby Petrino era. On top of that, second-year head coach Bret Bielema is trying to play pro-style, LSU- and Alabama-style football without the base of either of those division rivals or the talent on the roster.

Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino
Louisville head coach Bobby PetrinoTimothy D. Easley/Associated Press

It's a long rebuilding effort for Bielema, and that will hurt him when compared against Petrino's new (and old) school, Louisville.

Sure, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is gone, but new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham inherits the nation's best defense (251.5 YPG). All Grantham has to do is not screw it up, which actually may be a challenge based on his work at Georgia. If Grantham does struggle, it won't be immediate and will give Petrino time to work his offensive magic with that roster.

Toss in the fact that Arkansas plays in a much tougher neighborhood in the SEC West, rather than Louisville's new digs in the ACC Atlantic, and I'll take the Cards short-term and long-term.


Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at

*All recruiting rankings are courtesy of