SEC Media Days: Gus Malzahn insists Auburn QB battle is not over

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It appears to go a little further than the typical, stock preseason optimism displayed by each of the 14 SEC head coaches who took the stage inside The Wynfrey Hotel this week.

Coming off a season in which they reached the Sugar Bowl, expectations surrounding the Auburn Tigers are high heading into the 2017 campaign.

On the final day of SEC Media Days, there was a lot of talk about the Auburn Tigers. "I'm very fond of Cam, not just what he's done on the field, but off the field".

"I mean, we obviously have created it in and around our program", Freeze said Thursday at Southeastern Conference media days.

"The fact that we have a very hungry team", he said.

On defense, Auburn lost a pair of defensive line stalwarts in Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams, but otherwise returns seven starters to a unit that ranked sixth nationally in scoring defense during its first season under coordinator Kevin Steele previous year. "I know our players are hungry, they're motivated, they've got that chip on their shoulder". Matthews was at Georgia in the 2013 season and had 12 tackles against Auburn that year before transferring in 2014.

Auburn ultimately fell to Florida State, 34-31, in the BCS championship game, but the past three seasons have yielded 8-5, 7-6 and 8-5 records that have included losses all three years to the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide. The Rebels are in the midst of an NCAA investigation that's lasted almost five years, and now there are 21 alleged violations that include academic, booster and recruiting misconduct. "I see him more on defense now and more interactive on special teams and I like that", said defensive back Tray Matthews. But when we went there we played very well, so that's a good question. "We're going to throw it quite a bit more".

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In total, Newton was sacked 36 times and hit 93 times last season. "(Stidham) is a talented guy. "He's done a good job trying to win over his teammates with his work ethic. Now that we have the experience, I think that will play a key role, part of seeing what the journey has been the last couple of years".

"We got two of the better quarterbacks (in Stidham and Sean White), I feel like, and we got a young one in Malik Willis", Malzahn said when asked whether Stidham was Auburn's starting QB.

"We were the number two team in the SEC previous year", Malzahn said.

An all around hope as Auburn is one again expected to perform well.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn didn't shy away from the talk that his Tigers can unseat Alabama as the top team in the Southeastern Conference.

"This team has high expectations, and their goal is to win the SEC, and to do that you've got to beat Alabama", Malzahn said.

-Auburn's game at defending national champion Clemson on September 9 is one of the top early nonconference games of the season. We're ready to get after it this year. He'll have plenty of friendly faces in the crowd September 23 at Memorial Stadium when Auburn visits Mizzou for the first time in team history.

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