A Week of Spring Drills
One day in shells, no real pad popping yet
(Photo by Acid Reign)
War Eagle, everybody. The big story this week with the Auburn Tigers is, of course, the Auburn men’s basketball team, the SEC title they earned a part of, and their chances in the SEC and NCAA tournaments. I am excited and apprehensive about the SEC tournament. Will we get hot-shooting Auburn? Or foul-trouble Auburn? I have no idea. It has been unusually quiet from the football camp, which began spring drills a week ago. Granted, there hasn’t been any full-pads work yet, not to mention scrimmages. Still, a few tidbits have leaked out.
On the defensive line, we pretty much knew going in that likely starters were going to be Dontavius Russell, Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson. The big question was who would likely fill the void left by the departed Jeff Holland at buck end. Thus far, it looks like the answer is T. D. Moultry, who has lined up with the first unit at the beginning of each drill. On the backup end question, it looks as if both Nick Coe and Big Kat Bryant have done work on both sides of the line. It can’t hurt to have multiple guys ready to go. We knew Andrew Williams would again be in the mix at tackle, and thus far I’d have to say that Tyrone Truesdell might be number four in the pecking order.
At linebacker, the only real question is who will step up as the unquestioned leader, with Tré Williams headed to the NFL. With Deshaun Davis, Montravius Atkinson, Darrell Williams and K. J. Britt out there, Auburn definitely goes two deep with big time SEC talent. My guess is that Davis is the man to watch.
Auburn has made some interesting moves in the secondary this spring. We figured that Daniel Thomas would move into a starting role at safety. The real question is who would win the other spot. For now, the answer is Jeremiah Dinson, who moves over from nickel back. Backup safeties in early drills thus far have been Smoke Monday and Jamien Sherwood. Taking over at nickel back are John Broussard and Devin Guice. Starting corners appear to be Javaris Davis and Jordyn Peters, as last year’s starter Jamel Dean is in a noncontact jersey so far this spring. To make matters worse, Peters went down with an undisclosed injury this week. There’s talent out there, but this is an awfully young bunch. The second unit cornerbacks have been Noah Igbinoghene and Christian Tutt. Igbinoghene is apparently practicing on both offense and defense and remains the top kick returner as well.
On special teams, we hear that heir-apparent kicker Anders Carlson is doing well, with only an occasional miss from long range. Auburn must replace punt returner Stephen Roberts, and the front-runner there appears to be Ryan Davis.
On offense, the big question this spring is the offensive line where 4 starters must be replaced, including All-American Braden Smith and the ever versatile Austin Golson, who could and did play every position on the line. Auburn has done some mixing and matching here to this point. One interesting note is that I have not seen Marquel Harrell in the two deep yet. Harrell came in and started several games down the stretch last season as injuries mounted, and there’s not yet any word on his status. It appears that redshirt freshman Calvin Ashley is the front-runner at right tackle, and Prince Tega Wanagho will anchor the left. Center is evidently a battle between Kaleb Kim and Nick Brahms. For now, Brodarius Hamm joins veteran Mike Horton at guard. For depth at tackle, it appears that Prince Michael Sammons is practicing on both sides. Tyler Carr appears to be one backup guard, and the coaches have moved defensive tackle Tashawn Manning to guard to fill another slot.
Auburn’s receiving corps has been even more fluid this spring. Sporting noncontact jerseys are Will Hastings, Nate Craig-Myers and Ryan Davis. That’s most of last year’s starting unit. For now, the starters appear to be Eli Stove, Marquis McClain and Darius Slayton. Second team goes deep into the walk-ons and newcomers.
Auburn has not showed a tight-end look in practice yet, going exclusively with three-receiver sets. Chandler Cox is starting at H-back with Tucker Brown behind him. Thus far at running back, Kam Martin is number one with Devan Barrett running atop the twos.
We have wondered about a big quarterback competition this spring with Jarrett Stidham not cleared to practice yet after nonthrowing-shoulder surgery. Evidently, the competition will come later, if at all, and that is a good thing. I’d have been worried if early enrollee Joey Gatewood was a threat to take the backup job away from Malik Willis. At this time, I’m told that Willis is doing a really great job running the offense, and Gatewood is just trying to learn the offense.