The Auburn Tigers are loaded on the defensive line despite losing All-SEC defensive end Quentin Groves to the NFL. Auburn returns two potential first round draft picks on the line in defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks and defensive end Antonio Coleman. These two should spearhead one of the most aggressive defensive lines in the SEC in 2008.
Given the strength at linebacker and the secondary, it’s not a stretch to say that if this defensive line performs as expected, Auburn’s defense could end up being the best in the SEC.
The inside of the defensive line will consist of the extremely talented Marks, along with junior Jake Ricks. Ricks saw limited action in 2007 but figures to be an integral part of the Tiger defensive line in 2008. Ricks should get plenty of opportunities to make plays, both against the pass and the run, because Marks and Coleman should see a lot of double teams.
Sophomore defensive end Michael Goggans should enjoy the same benefits playing opposite Coleman, who will be a headache for offensive coordinators in 2007. Expect Goggans to have a big year statistically due to the attention paid Coleman.
Auburn is not short on depth along the defensive front either. The Tigers are much deeper at the end position than they are at the middle, but many of their players listed as defensive ends can also slide into the middle of the line, should the need arise.
These versatile players include sophomores Darrell Roseman, Mike Blanc, and Zach Clayton. The defensive end depth will be filled out by junior Raven Gray, who should see significant playing time in a backup role, redshirt freshman A.J. Green, and sophomore Antoine Carter. Carter should also rotate in throughout the course of games in the 2008 season.
The Tigers will definitely benefit from such a talented defensive line, and with the strength they have in the trenches on both sides of the ball, it is somewhat surprising that there is not a whole lot of hype surrounding Auburn entering the season.
If this group plays anywhere close to its potential, that will change in a hurry, and Auburn will be sitting close to the top of the polls when the SEC season rolls around.