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San Jose State Football: Out of Conference Preview of the Auburn Tigers

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San Jose State squares off against Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium in an early October battle.

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn Tigers

2014 Record: 8-5

Wins: Arkansas, San Jose State, LSU, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Samford

Loses: Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Wisconsin

Season Recap: Auburn started off to a hot 5-0 start of the season before suffering their first loss against Mississippi State at Davis Wade Stadium. They were able to bounce back after that initial loss to put together consecutive wins against South Carolina and Ole Miss. Fortunes took a turn for the worse as they dropped 3 out 4, including a double digit loss to rival Alabama, to finish out the regular season. Luck didn't change too much for the Tigers as they lost to Wisconsin in overtime in the Outback Bowl.

Series: 1-0 Auburn

The first time that these two teams met was actually last year when San Jose State went in to Auburn for a 59-13 defeat in an early September loss. Nick Marshall didn't have a great game passing, completing 10 of 19 for 101 yards and a touchdown. He did, along with running back Cameron Artis-Payne, have a great day rushing. Together, they combined for 215 yards and 4 touchdowns. Spartans quarterback Blake Jurich threw for 218 yards and a touchdown while running back Limihai Hifo led all Spartan players in rushing with a dismal 36 yards on 15 carries.

Coach Resume: Gus Malzahn 20-7 (29-10 overall)

Head coach Gus Malzahn took over as the Auburn head coach back in 2012 after the Tigers went separate ways from Gene Chizik.  Gus Malzahn has done a very incredible job in his short time with the Tigers. For a team that did not win a single SEC game in 2012, he took the Tigers to the SEC Conference Title and an appearance in the BCS Championship game in his first year.

Returning QB: No

Auburn loses their starting quarterback of two years for the 2015 season after not being selected in the 2015 NFL draft, but did sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars. They are losing a two year starter who last year threw for 2,532 yards on 60.8 percent completion to go along with 20 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He also rushed for an additional 814 yards and 11 touchdowns. That is a lot of offense to replace. He was also on the Heisman watch list last year as well. They are starting a quarterback with a lot of hype around his name in Jeremy Johnson. While he hasn't started, he has played in 7 games last year and threw for 436 yards and three touchdowns to zero interceptions.

Biggest problem: Defense

Auburns defensive woes were pretty well documented last season. The Tiger defense gave up an average of 27 points per game. Which, when playing in the SEC West, isn't going to cut it. That is why the fired Ellis Johnson and brought it former Florida head coach and defensive genius Will Muschamp. Muschamp's misfortunes as a head coach have been well documented, but his record as a defensive coordinator is quite impressive. Will he be able to fix this defense and help propel this Auburn team to the next level?

Biggest Strength: Offense

Where the defense lacked, the offense certainly carried them. As mentioned above, Nick Marshall had quite the stellar season at quarterback. Jeremy Johnson is taking over the reins now, and if the hype around Johnson is legitimate, the offense could be even better under offensively minded Gus Malzahn.

4 players to remember:

Jeremy Johnson (QB, Jr.): As mentioned above, Johnson is the presumed starter. He does have some game experience, throwing for 436 yards and three touchdowns, look for Johnson to have a break-out year for no longer having to sit behind Marshall.

D'Haquille Williams (WR, Sr.): Senior wide receiver who led the team in receptions and touchdowns and second in receiving yards, Williams will get the look early and often from new starting quarterback Johnson.

Jonathan Jones (DB, Sr.): Tied for the team high in interceptions and a team high 12 passes broken up, Jones is going to be a lock down cornerback that is going to be a key in helping revive this Auburn defense.

Kris Frost (LB, Sr.): Tied for first in sacks with 3.5 and second in tackles for loss with 10, Frost is going to be a senior leader anchoring the defense for new DC Will Muschamp.