Dan Appino has built a winning culture at Auburn ever since taking over the program five years ago. The Knights have steadily improved, making runs in the postseason the past couple of years, including a trip to the third round last year.
But Auburn lost a lot of depth from that team, including on the offensive and defensive lines.
"We lost a lot of our big guys up front," Appino said.
That includes Vederian Lowe, who's currently in camp with Lovie Smith at the University of Illinois, and Donterrio Hannah, who's also playing college football. Players of that size and caliber are hard to replace.
"That's kind of a chip on our shoulder we have going into this year," Appino said. "People think we're going to be down. Our challenge is to work harder and prove that's not necessarily be a deficit for us."
Auburn will rely on its speed and athletic ability, along with an unrelenting defense, to win games this year.
"All summer we've been waiting for this moment," senior Jamus Neal said of starting the new season. "We're ready."
The Knights open the season on the road against Freeport in less than three weeks.