HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — The Auburn Tigers are coming off of a winning season where they placed second in the SEC West in 2016, but the players and coaches are excited to come back as an improved team.
Head Coach Gus Malzahn explained early in his presser that the team knows the path to number one is paved in crimson and white.
“What I do like about this team is that they have high expectations,” Malzahn said at SEC Media Days. “Their goal is to win the SEC Championship, and to do that you have to beat Alabama.”
Malzahn likes the team’s chances of playing at a high level in 2017, especially with the emergence of Sean White as a leader at quarterback. Though the coach did add that Freshman QB Malik Willis had impressed him in workouts coming into the season.
The quality of quarterback is not an outlier on this year’s Tigers team. The overall depth of the squad was identified as a bright spot in the coach’s speech.
Auburn at SEC Media Days
“[This is the] first time I can say we have quality depth in all areas,” Malzahn said. “The biggest thing that stands out to me is that they’re hungry. They’re hungry and they’ve got something to prove, and really the last time I felt this way was 2013.”
Tigers fans will recall that 2013 was Malzahn’s first season as head coach for the team, which won 12 games on their way to a crushing loss to Jimbo Fisher’s FSU Seminoles in the BCS National Championship game.
Malzahn thinks that the new team has a chance to take it all the way again, and the team’s depth will play a role in that resurgence.
That depth extends to special teams, where kicker Daniel Carlson’s field goal consistency sealed several victories for the Tigers in 2016. Malzahn was sure to give credit to Carlson for not just the field goals, but the team’s overall success.
“Special teams, it all starts with Daniel Carlson, and I really feel like he’s one of the greatest weapons in all of college football,” Malzahn said. “Not just the field goals and the range and all that, but the kickoffs. He all but eliminates the kickoff returns.”