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The Five: Must-haves

In our latest The Five update, we take a look at the areas Auburn must have improvement from this season.

Will Sammie Coates step up as a sophomore?

5. More consistency at wide receiver

Auburn has had a severe lack of production from the wide receiver position the last two years. Emory Blake was talented but injuries and poor quarterback play kept Auburn’s only playmaker at the position from making many plays the last two seasons. With Blake gone, Auburn needs several wide receivers to step up and provide Gus Malzahn’s offense with consistency and big plays this fall.

4. Leadership

From the coaches to the players, there was a clear lack of leadership within last year’s football program. A veteran staff under Coach Malzahn is a definite step forward. Auburn has a solid group of seniors that should provide leadership too. But in the case of this year’s team, it’s more of a case of addition by subtraction with many of the players that have moved on from last year.

3. A d-line that plays up to its potential

It’s still hard to understand how an Auburn defensive line, packed with experienced and highly-recruited players, could play as bad as it did last year. But it did week in and week out. I saw it with my own two eyes. Many of those players return this season with a new defensive line coach and perhaps more mental and physical toughness.

2. Having a mental edge

Auburn doesn’t lose 38-0 to Georgia and 49-0 to Alabama without some serious issues that run much deeper than just the talent on the field. Last year’s team had a serious lack of confidence. That confidence seemed to wane as the losses piled up. The players also lacked the physical and mental toughness that had been a hallmark of good Auburn teams of the past. Much of that is built during offseason workouts and preseason practice. An area where Auburn slipped last year.

Wallace ended last season as a starter.

1. Better play at quarterback

Last season’s team ranked No. 13 in the Southeastern Conference in pass offense, No. 12 in pass efficiency and had just eight touchdown passes, which was easily last in the conference. Auburn must get better play from the quarterback position to return to competing for championships. Whether a returning quarterback steps up and improves or it’s a newcomer that takes the reigns this fall, Auburn must have a better decision-maker and more production from the quarterback position.

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Check out more updates from our The Five series:

Impact freshmen
Best turnaround seasons
Breakout Auburn players
Best Auburn players
Most underrated players
Reasons for concern
Reasons for optimism
Most important games
More big Auburn plays
Biggest Auburn plays

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