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College Football Preview 2024: Auburn Tigers win projections, strengths and weaknesses, quarterback spotlight and more

2RYDPWA Auburn running back Jarquez Hunter (27) runs with the ball during the first half of an NCAA football game against Georgia on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

Hugh Freeze’s first season as Auburn’s head coach was nearly identical to the program's previous two years. The Tigers finished 2023 with a 6-7 record, making it their third consecutive losing season. That hadn’t happened to Auburn since the 1970s.

There’s optimism that the Tigers will snap that streak in 2024, thanks to an impressive collection of offensive skill-position players and key returning defenders. A well-below-average passer in Payton Thorne and a questionable offensive line will likely cap the team's ceiling, though.

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Biggest Strength: Offensive skill-position players

Auburn’s offense features a star running back in Jarquez Hunter and a revamped receiving corps that includes true freshman Cam Coleman, a top-five overall recruit in the 2024 class.

Biggest Weakness: Payton Thorne's ability to get the ball to playmakers

Thorne is back for another season as the Tigers’ starting quarterback. While he is a very efficient runner, the same can’t be said for him as a passer. The redshirt senior’s 64.3 passing grade in 2023 placed only 101st among FBS signal-callers.

2023 Team Overview

EPA per play Yards per play Successful play rate Explosive run play rate Explosive pass play rate
-0.012 5.5 33.9% 17.3% 9.7%
71st 82nd 81st 40th 126th
EPA allowed per play Yards allowed per play Successful play rate allowed Explosive run rate allowed Explosive pass rate allowed
-0.052 5.4 31.6% 17.9% 13.6%
49th T-54th 29th 114th 56th

Three Notable Transfer Portal Additions

  • S Jerrin Thompson (Texas): 68.7 PFF grade
  • WR KeAndre Lambert-Smith (Penn State): 73.7 PFF grade
  • WR Robert Lewis (Georgia State): 73.5 PFF grade

Three Notable Transfer Portal Losses

  • S Donovan Kaufman (NC State): 70.5 PFF grade
  • WR Ja’Varrius Johnson (UCF): 77.9 PFF grade
  • WR Jay Fair (USC): 70.3 PFF grade

Quarterback Spotlight: Payton Thorne

2023 Grade: 70.5
Key Stat: 682 rushing yards (17th among FBS quarterbacks)


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