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AUBURN TIGERS: Previewing

Location: Auburn, Ala. (Jordan-Hare Stadium)

Conference: Southeastern, Western Division

Coach: Tommy Tuberville (71-29, eight years)

Assistant coaches: Al Borges (offensive coordinator), Will Muschamp (defensive coordinator), Don Dunn (defensive tackles), Steve Ensminger (tight ends), Eddie Gran (running backs/special teams), Greg Knox (receivers), Hugh Nall (offensive line), Terry Price (defensive ends), James Willis (linebackers)

Last year: 11-2, Second in West, beat Nebraska 17-14 in Cotton Bowl

Offense: The Tigers return starting quarterback Brandon Cox, which will be a huge plus. Although only one starter returns on the line — King Dunlap — the Tigers have solidified many of the other spots. Right tackle remains the biggest concern for coaches. The Tigers have talent but not much experience at receiver. Rod Smith returns, while Robert Dunn and Prechae Rodriguez also have experience. Brad Lester returns at running back, but Auburn has depth with Ben Tate and Mario Fannin. The Tigers have three of the best tight ends in the league in Cole Bennett, Tommy Trott and Gabe McKenzie. Protection up front and production among the receivers will be the biggest keys.

Defense: Auburn’s linebacker corps has taken a battering with the loss of two experienced players, Patrick Trahan (academically ineligible) and Steve Gandy (concussions). Tray Blackmon shifted to the middle and will be counted upon to be a major playmaker, but Muschamp needs more playmakers to make his defense sing. The Tigers are loaded up front with All-America candidate Quentin Groves on one end and Sen’Derrick Marks on the other. Pat Sims and Josh Thompson are a formidable duo inside. The secondary has some question areas, but features a couple of returners. Locking down a cornerback opposite Jonathan Wilhite will be a must, but Jerraud Powers made a push early in camp. Can't miss game: Sept. 29 vs. Florida. The Tigers were the only team to mar the season for Florida, which went on to win the national championship. There’s no doubt the Gators will want revenge, especially with the game being played in The Swamp. Although it won’t decide the division, this could be a fierce game. Last year, Muschamp found a way to contain Chris Leak after some first-half adjustments. The question is will he be able to shut down the more versatile Tim Tebow? Local players: LB Tray Blackmon, LaGrange High (18 tackles, half a sack, 3 fumble recoveries)

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