On the Line Show Notes: How can Auburn basketball illustrate improvement against Vanderbilt?

Listen to On the Line on ESPN 106.7 (Auburn) and on Fox Sports Central Alabama (Birmingham, Sylacauga, Montgomery) from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. every weekday. Noah Gardner (@pointguardner) and Levi Fitzwater (@levifitzwater) break down the latest in Auburn Athletics, the SEC, and beyond. Find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and iHeartRadio.

How can Auburn basketball illustrate improvement against Vanderbilt?

It’s hard to show true improvement when you play subpar competition. Did you handily beat the team because you improved or because the competition was worse? Tonight’s Auburn basketball game against Vanderbilt puts Auburn in a similar type of position, but considering Auburn lost to less talented teams (Georgia and Ole Miss) last week, it’s a step in the right direction to snap a three-game losing streak. Nonetheless, there are some areas to keep an eye on for Auburn to focus on against Vanderbilt.

Primarily, Auburn should look to dominate the paint on both sides of the floor. Over its three-game losing streak, Auburn has allowed its opponents to shoot 52 percent from inside the arc. Vanderbilt’s conference average is at 48.4 percent, so if Auburn allows the Commodores to score above their average in the paint, it won’t be considered a good performance for Auburn in the defensive frontcourt. On the offensive side of the floor, Auburn ranks first in the SEC in conference play in two-point percentage at 54.6 percent, while Vanderbilt is worst in the SEC at defending the lane in conference play at allowing 59.2 percent of two-pointers to go in. The recipe is simple for Auburn: less three-point shots and look to dominate the rim on both ends.

How will the Auburn quarterback room look next season?

On the show, we are beginning a depth chart prediction series in the leadup to A-Day. Over the next two months, we will break down Auburn’s position groups, and give our predictions as to what the depth chart will look like going into the spring game. We will start the series with the most obvious to predict, which is quarterback.

  1. #10 Bo Nix (So.) – Regardless if you are a part of the camp that is disgruntled with Bo Nix’s performance through two seasons, he is the starter going into 2021, and it won’t change. A new scheme with better pass concepts is going to elevate Nix’s performance next season. Not to mention, Mike Bobo has unquestioned experience at developing quarterbacks. The arm talent, athleticism and potential is there for Bobo to help Nix develop into one of the top SEC quarterbacks in 2021.
  2. Dematrius Davis (Fr.) – There are a lot of unknowns here at No. 2 on the depth chart. Last season, Grant Loy was the backup, but between his prior experiences at Bowling Green and the little we saw at Auburn, it shouldn’t be difficult for Davis to put himself behind Nix on the depth chart. Davis comes with accolades from competition at one of the highest levels of high school football, named the Offensive Player of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Houston. A dual-threat quarterback, the athleticism is there for him to make an impact on Day 1, but there is hardly anything known about him as a passer in the SEC. With the coaching staff putting an emphasis on pass-first, pro-style quarterbacks (2022 QB Holden Geriner), time will tell how the quarterback room unfolds behind Bo Nix over the next couple of seasons, especially considering Davis signed with Auburn before Harsin was named head coach.
  3. #14 Grant Loy (Sr.) – Recently announcing his return to the program for a final year, Loy spent 2020 as Auburn’s backup. Having been in college football for four season now, his experience puts him past other Auburn QBs Chayil Garnett and Sawyer Pate, but I don’t expect him to get the snaps ahead of Dematrius Davis in late-game, blowout situations.