ROCKFORD – After a slow start in J.P. Toldo’s first year as head coach, Auburn came on strong in the 2nd half of the season to finish 3-6 and take some momentum into the 2019 season.
“Something we’ve been talking about is we want to remember how we finished,” Toldo said. “It took us a long time to learn how to play and play the way we were capable of last year. That 2nd half of our last game is what we want to build upon. We’ve been talking about all summer that we want to play with that kind of effort and that type of physical play.”
The Knights also want to play fast. With some good skill position players returning to the mix this year, they’ll look to break off big chunks of yardage on single plays.
“Auburn is one of those teams, we’re a hard-hitting, fast team,” senior wide receiver and safety Davonte Stanfield said. “We’re not big like all the other teams. We have a lot of heart when it comes to Auburn. Auburn has a lot of stuff going on. When we come to the field we put everything behind us and work on ourselves and work on the team.”
Stanfield is one of the key returning players for the Knights, and he says he’s tried to take on more of a leadership role heading into his senior season. He wants to make sure the younger players know what it means to suit up for Auburn.
“Most definitely we’re going to come out and compete every single day,” he said. “Especially with these teams in the NIC-10. It is competitive. As everybody else knows, we’re a hard-hitting team. We’re going to come with the force and keep coming to play to get to the playoffs.”
Auburn made the playoffs in the four previous seasons before missing out last year. They’ll try to take the first step toward a resurgence with a week one showdown against Guilford at Wyeth Stadium.