As spring football games go, Saturday’s A-Day delivered on all fronts – almost. Auburn fans, shut out of spring practice this year by new coach Gene Chizik, made Jordan-Hare Stadium feel almost like a fall football Saturday with the nearly 50,000 people in attendance.
The only thing missing was the ability to get a grip on what kind of team Gene Chizik will put on the field in September. Playing its base offense and defense the entire scrimmage, there wasn’t a whole lot of creativity shown by Auburn coaches.
For most fans it didn’t seem to matter.
So what if quarterback Neil Caudle’s yardage came against a defensive secondary made up of guys who’ll never touch the field come fall? After all, it’s been a long year for this football team and its fans. Saturday was a day to let loose and Gene Chizik’s guys delivered.
Chizik even sent a message himself, staying on the field for the entire game coaching each side of the ball like he was at Pop Warner. Was some of it theatrics? Sure. But most Auburn fans in attendance will tell you, it felt good.
The talk this Monday morning is about Caudle’s performance and Kodi Burns lackluster passing numbers. Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn warns not to read too much into A-Day. “We’re in the base stages of our offense,” he says. “We’re just trying to get the foundation so that in the summer they can actually work on things and improve without the coaches. We’re not ready to make any decisions (on quarterback) right now. When we get to fall camp, we’ll start that thing going.”
For Caudle and Burns, this is not the news they wanted. Both Malzahn and Chizik hinted in recent weeks that a starter could be named by month’s end. Now things are set to roll on through the summer and both can expect to see more competition in August. Look for more attention to be given now to incoming four-star recruit and Parade All-American Tyrik Rollison and possibly to last year’s starter Chris Todd who continues to battle injury.
Of all the candidates, Rollison is the most intriguing. He passed for nearly 5,000 yards and 51 touchdowns at Sulphur Springs (TX.) High School last season – no it’s not a typo. He’s a spread option quarterback with great movement. He rushed for 1,094 as a senior and seems to matchup perfectly with Malzahn’s offense. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to see him in the lineup by the end of September.
Credit needs to be given to University officials for putting on a good show. Having the Auburn Marching Band play in the South end-zone was a nice touch and the grass at Jordan-Hare Stadium looked game day ready. It would have been nice if the team had their game day jerseys to wear like they did at other schools. I’m sure Under Armour would have coughed up the cash if asked. If you were like me and sat on the east side of the stadium you were in for a surprise. Apparently the decision was made to only sell tickets on the West Side of the stadium. There were literally hundreds of angry fans who made the trek to the other side just to get a $5 ticket – no big deal, but a little irritating.
With recruiting and A-Day over, we now enter the dead period of college football. If you are a fan, the next big milestone comes in late May when Athlon and Lindy’s come out with their preseason magazines. Even in the internet age there’s still something special about getting your hands on that first issue. Sure the predictions rarely turn out, but is there anything better than sitting on the beach in June drinking a Corona and reading about college football? Of course, Track’em Tigers will be here everyday talking Auburn football. We hope you’ll stick around.