Auburn football preview: Tigers 2017 schedule, roster and three things to watch

Auburn enters Gus Malzahn's fifth season with another quarterback competition to settle. Here's a quick look at the Tigers.

The Auburn Tigers are coming off an 8-5 season and a berth in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, but Gus Malzahn is looking for more heading into his fifth year on the Plains.

Of course, Auburn faces some familiar questions heading into the spring. There’s another quarterback competition, and Malzahn has a new offensive coordinator in Chip Lindsey. Star running back Kamryn Pettway also is back after rushing for 1,224 yards and seven TDs last season.

Auburn has reasons for optimism, but will that be enough to challenge rival Alabama in the SEC West?

The Tigers are ranked No. 19 inSporting News' Way-Too-Early Top 25, and here's a preview of Auburn’s 2017 schedule, roster and biggest questions entering the season.

When is Auburn's spring game?

Auburn’s A-Day Spring Game is 2 p.m. ET (1 p.m. CT) on Saturday, April 8, at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Where will Auburn's spring game be televised?

Auburn’s spring game will be televised on the SEC Network.

2017 Auburn football schedule

Sept. 2: vs. Georgia Southern

Sept. 9: at Clemson

Sept. 16: vs. Mercer

Sept. 23: at Missouri

Sept. 30: vs. Mississippi State

Oct. 7: vs. Ole Miss

Oct. 14: at LSU

Oct. 21: at Arkansas

Oct. 28: BYE

Nov. 4: at Texas A&M

Nov. 11: vs. Georgia

Nov. 18: vs. UL-Monroe

Nov. 25: vs. Alabama

Dec. 2: SEC championship game

2017 Auburn recruiting class

Auburn had a composite ranking of No. 11 across four major recruiting sites. Five-star tackle Calvin Ashley – a 6-foot-6, 310-pounder – was the big get in this class.

2017 Auburn roster

Auburn’s roster will be updated in the spring and fall here.

Three things to watch

1. Can Stidham win the job?

Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham, a former five-star recruit, is taking the first-team reps in spring practice, but that’s mainly because Sean White is still recovering from a broken forearm and shoulder injury. John Franklin III and Woody Barrett also could figure in, but the fall camp battle likely comes down to Stidham and White. Stidham is the one to watch in the spring game. Does he mesh with Lindsey? Keep in mind Auburn quarterbacks for 12 TD passes in 2016. Stidham had 12 TD passes as a backup with the Bears in 2015.

2. Will a big-time receiver step up?

Auburn’s top three returning receivers combined for less than 1,000 yards. Darius Slayton (19.5 yards per catch) and Kyle Davis (20.7 ypc.) made a few big catches and Eli Stove (9.7 ypc.) is a solid slot receiver, but it’s a departure from 2013 when the offense featured two 700-yard receivers in Sammie Coates and D’Haquille Williams. Can Auburn’s receivers seriously challenge a defense in the vertical passing game?

3. Who steps up in the pass rush?

Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams combined for 13.5 of Auburn’s 23.5 sacks last season, and that void will need replaced in Kevin Steele’s second season as defensive coordinator. Jeff Holland and Marlon Davidson would be the immediate candidates in that department. The Tigers’ defense was solid last season – it ranked seventh in the FBS at 17.1 points per game. Auburn, however, still allowed 30 points to Alabama and 35 points to Oklahoma in the final two games.

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