Why Brian Battie and Keldric Faulk are the ones to watch after Auburn's off week
One has arguably been Auburn's best weapon in SEC play. The other has produced ahead of a potential move into the starting lineup.
RB Brian Battie and DE Keldric Faulk (Austin Perryman/Auburn Tigers)
Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze said he had a large list of things he wanted to evaluate during the Tigers’ off week.
Coming nearly at the halfway point of the regular season but just two games into the SEC slate, Auburn needed that time to get healthy and get some answers.
The top priority, undoubtedly, will be fixing a passing attack that is among the worst in major college football this season. Against Power 5 opponents, Auburn is averaging just 4.0 yards per attempt — the fourth-worst mark in FBS and the worst among any team that has played multiple such games. The second-worst Power 5 passing offense vs. Power 5 opponents, Iowa, is nearly a yard better than the Tigers.
Freeze will most likely have a lot to say about Auburn’s off week and how it impacted the Tigers’ search for progress in the passing game during his weekly press conference Monday morning. (Spoiler alert: Tomorrow’s Observer newsletter should cover a lot of that.)
While Auburn opened as a double-digit underdog for its Week 7 game, it’s worth noting that LSU currently ranks No. 104 nationally in pass defense after giving up 1,073 passing yards and nine touchdowns over its last three games.
But the off week was important for all the other aspects of the Tigers, too. The coaching staff would have had plenty of time to evaluate what they’ve learned from the first five games of the season and identify who they can trust moving forward.
When you look back at Auburn’s 3-2 start, you can see clear separation at a lot of position groups. The ones who are getting the most playing time are — for the most part — the ones who have been the most productive with their opportunities.
There are two notable exceptions, though. And they could easily find themselves getting more opportunities after the off week, because their play so far in 2023 is too much to leave on the sidelines for the vast majority of the time.
They’re both newcomers to the Auburn roster in 2023, too. Freeze and his staff worked quickly to secure both of their commitments last December, grabbing one out of the transfer portal and flipping another as a highly rated true freshman who was committed to a big name, powerhouse program.
The transfer, running back Brian Battie, has arguably been Auburn’s most successful offensive weapon in its two matchups against SEC opponents this season. And, for an offense that’s looking to build on any positives after a slow start to the campaign overall, his opportunities should continue to climb in the back half of the season.
The true freshman, defensive end Keldric Faulk, has wasted no time in making an instant impact at Auburn. The Alabama native is the highest-rated former recruit on the Tigers’ 2023 roster and has looked the part in the two-deep depth chart. Now, with starting defensive end Mosiah Nasili-Kite out for the season with a torn bicep, Faulk could easily be pushed into a bigger role soon.
For today’s newsletter, let’s take a closer look at both Battie and Faulk to see what has made them click so far this season — and why the Tigers could help themselves by giving them more opportunities down the stretch.
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