Five Burning Questions for A-Day
An ominous day that foreshadowed a disappointing year
(Photo by Acid Reign)
Each year I do this sort of post before A-Day, and each year the questions tend to be pretty similar. I’ll be sitting A-Day out for the first time in a decade. However, I expect to have an open thread up and running and will do a play by play off of the television! The game kicks off at 3:00 PM and will be televised on the SEC Network. The pundits say that nothing can be learned from A-Day. I feel differently. In particular, issues on the line tend to linger into the fall. They certainly have the last two seasons.
The past two seasons, my biggest concern was with the offensive line. I was worried about shuffling the lineup. The defensive line largely had its way during the spring game. Offensive line shuffling continued throughout the 2018 season, and Auburn had pass protection issues against the better defenses. I think that changed for the better in late November and onwards. I look forward to seeing coherent protection this spring from the starters. If not, we can expect more woe next fall.
Obviously, Auburn will have a new starting quarterback. Last spring, honestly, this position looked bad on A-Day. None of the guys that actually played during A-Day made much of a dent on the field till late in a blowout bowl game.
Could the Auburn receivers get open? Not much last year on a wet field. Of course, Darius Slayton and Ryan Davis did not play much, if at all. It will be interesting to see what the new “go-to” guys do against an experienced Auburn secondary.
I wondered how deep the Auburn backfield was, and if Auburn would have any healthy options by November. The ultimate answer was “not really.” There were two dependable backs last season, and both Kam Martin and JaTarvious Whitlow were slowed by injuries more often than not.
I think that the quarterback race will go a long way in deciding the 2019 season. We’ll get a bit of a preview this spring. We will not have the bad weather this year to blame things on as rain is not expected during A-Day this year.
I worried last season about timing issues with quarterback Jarrett Stidham being held out of spring drills after surgery. True to form, Auburn receivers and the quarterback had major problems connecting during the season. I would like to see some receiver/quarterback chemistry this year in the A-Day game.
Graduation has gutted the H-back/tight end position, and Auburn will either have to go with 4 receivers every down next fall or develop some new guys to take over for the departed Chandler Cox and Jalen Harris. Harris transferred after 4 games last fall when the team failed to live up to the “throw it to the tight end” philosophy. The loss of Harris spelled disaster in the running game. Auburn lost at Mississippi State and fell to a woeful Tennessee team at home, thanks to an inability to lead-block and run the ball.
I’m looking for great improvement from the secondary. Last year, way too much of the time these guys were scrambling to catch up to the receiver and blindly grabbing with their backs to the quarterback. The LSU and Tennessee games were lost due to repeated pass interference flags, and the guys pretty much looked helpless in the second half of the Iron Bowl.
In conclusion, my five questions I’d like to see answered are quarterback, O-line coherence, lead blocking, catching the da__ ball, and coverage improvement. If Auburn shows answers to all of the above, we can likely expect a championship season. If problems are revealed on A-Day, the current coaching staff has not shown much ability to fix issues during fall camp. The schedule is brutal next fall, despite getting UGA and Bama at home. Auburn has to travel to LSU, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Florida, and I expect at least 3 of those road teams to be really good. And Oregon is a seriously tough opening opponent.