What do Auburn’s transfer additions tell you about the new coaching staff’s perception of the defense?

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On Friday, Auburn football added its sixth player from the transfer portal in former Kansas DE Marcus Harris. Coming out of high school, Harris was listed as the No. 115 strong-side defensive end in the country, a three-star prospect, according to 247Sports Composite. All of Auburn’s offseason transfer additions have been for the defensive side of the football with Harris being the third player brought in to bolster the defensive line.

With a new coaching staff on The Plains, a major question surrounding this offseason would be how did this coaching staff view the roster outlook and the performances of returning players from a year ago. New defensive coordinator Derek Mason and defensive line coach Nick Eason have placed their imprint on the defense with the offseason pickups. Furthermore, it gives us an indication how this coaching staff perceived the defensive weaknesses from a year ago.

Last season, Auburn finished 53rd in the nation in yards allowed per carry and 52nd in sacks per game, painting the picture of an average defensive line that was forced unproductive by good offensive lines in the conference, which is true. Auburn gave up 5.5 yards per carry against Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Alabama and Texas A&M, while only averaging 1.8 sacks per game against the same opponents.

What area on the 2021 Auburn football team does the new coaching staff address? The defensive line. In addition to Kansas transfer Harris, Auburn added Northwestern DE Eku Leota and UAB DT Tony Fair, bringing in a combined five sacks, 16 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles across the three players from 2020.

In order to compete in the SEC at a higher level in 2021, Auburn will need to rediscover the success the Tigers had in the front seven under Kevin Steele from 2016 to 2020. Are these additions combined with returners enough to make a difference in 2021? Football season is a little over three months away.