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Ratcheting up the Reps.

By on April 3rd, 2014 in Football 10 Comments »
Building Depth

The Tigers are looking to build depth this spring.
(Photo by Acid Reign.)

     War Eagle, everybody! Spring has sprung in the southeast. The car air conditioner is back in use after a five month hiatus, yellow dust is collecting everywhere, and the pads are popping on the practice fields. We’re about midway through spring drills, and I think I can safely say that there’s a different feel to this year’s preparations. If nothing else, it’s pretty strange not to have an intense quarterback race in progress. Auburn hasn’t had an entrenched returning starter there since Brandon Cox 7 years ago.

     Last spring, Auburn was installing new systems, particularly on defense, trying to assess players, and build a two-deep. There is always a lot of teaching going on in spring drills, but last season was also about expectations and getting the players to buy in. This year, the players already know the expectations, and the coaches are able to do a lot more reps and a lot less explaining.

     It is evident that Auburn players took offseason workouts seriously. A number of players are bigger, stronger and should make more of an impact this season. Of particular note is the throwing and catching. There is a lot more chemistry between Nick Marshall and his receivers this spring than we saw last fall. During the winter, Marshall set up informal throw and catch drills several times a week, and it is paying off. The timing and accuracy are there, this spring.

     Auburn should again have a deep and experienced defensive line this fall. While sophomores Carl Lawson and Elijah Daniel are the odds-on favorites to win the starting defensive end jobs, Auburn had almost no depth returning there. The move a week or so ago to rep Montravius Adams and Gabe Wright at end should pay dividends. One must also look at Auburn’s early schedule. The Tigers open with Arkansas, and you know the Razorbacks will look to come into Auburn, line up with extra tight ends, and pound the rock. Having some bigger, 300 pound ends ready to go makes a whole lot of sense. After a nagging injury, Daniel is back at practice, going full speed.

     The big news this week at linebacker is that Cassanova McKinzy and Kris Frost have flipped spots, with McKinzy now lining up at middle linebacker. That move puts Frost back on the outside, where he played his first two years at Auburn. To bolster depth, sophomore safety Khari Harding has been moved down to outside linebacker as well. Harding is listed at 224 pounds, and it can only help to add a guy with coverage skills into the mix at linebacker.

     In the secondary, new players continue to impress. We’ve already raved about the play of JUCO transfer Derrick Moncrief. Two players that have changed positions this spring are also making some noise, Trovon Reed at cornerback, and Jonathan Ford at safety. Reed gives the Tigers a shifty corner with the speed to stay with any receiver in the league. Ford brings speed and physicality to the safety position, and he should be in the playing rotation this fall.

     On the offensive line, the battle between junior Patrick Miller and sophomore Shon Coleman continues, and by all accounts it is a dead heat. If there’s a difference, it’s that Coleman is a bit more powerful of a drive-blocker, and Miller has a bit quicker step in pass protection. According to coach J. B. Grimes, this line is far ahead of where the line was last season. A second-team line is shaping up to be powerful, too. Look for names like Deon Mix, Robert Leff, Xavier Dampeer and Will Adams on A-Day.

     The offense in general continues to line up very quickly, and operates crisply. Lots of different receivers are getting their name called, and there will be a lot of options for the offense in the passing game. Marcus Davis is one who is standing out, making big plays consistently. And wasn’t it great to hear that Tucker Tuberville threw a touchdown pass in last Saturday’s scrimmage? He’s at best 4th on the depth chart. When you’re getting production at that level, it’s a good thing!

10 Comments

  1. mvhcpa says:

    Great great great breakdown–I do not know how you do this–to me, it’s just a bunch of huge guys out there on the field.

    I am satisfied we are going to have a bunch of hard-hitting guys that nobody looks forward to facing on the field next season–and that is half the war right there.

    Michael Val
    (whose expectations continue to rise)

  2. KoolBell KoolBell says:

    Another great read Acid,

    I am curious as to what positions you think made the best overall improvements thru the season last year, and what type of improvements we may see this year in those same positions.

    Case in point the Defensive backfield certainly improved over 2012 levels of play. It may take a couple weeks worth of posts to lend us your unique insight on these positions.

    Nobody does this better than you, so I hope you’ll consider my ideas.

  3. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..For me, the receiving corps improved the most last season, and that’s continued into this spring. Those guys couldn’t catch a cold in the opener, and every time we threw a quick screen the defender plowed through a whiffed block and tattooed the receiver. Come midseason, Coates was slamming guys in Texas, guys were running better and better routes, and the drops were way down. By the end of the season, we could go three or four wide, and it still looked like a three-tight end offense, on the blocking.

    …..Honorable mention goes to the linebackers. They were downright bad early, and the 4-2-5 did not do them any favors. By Iron Bowl time, they were making crucial stops pretty regularly. It wasn’t a great corps by any means, but they improved a lot as the season went on.

    • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

      Early on in spring drills, receivers were again dropping too many passes . I hope this has been corrected.

  4. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    “The car air conditioner is back in use after a five month hiatus, yellow dust is collecting everywhere,”

    Um, yeah. We have a winter weather warning and are expecting 4-8 inches of snow.

    On the upside, I’m starting to feel more confident in the D. I’m actually looking forward to some warm weather, so I’m not going to wish away the spring (hasn’t really started for us yet) and summer quite yet……..nope, not even for football ;)

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..Winter is a somewhat slower time at work, it’s not too bad in Alabama, and everyone in this house gets sick when the pollen starts in the spring. I get to dispense pills, fix chicken soup, cart folks to the ear-nose-throat specialist, and hopefully perform these duties with some cheer.

      …..I used to suffer horrible spring allergies, but about 12 years ago, I fell off a 15 foot retaining wall, landed head-first, and basically did self-sinus-surgery. At the time, it was out cold, then throwing up, then a trip to the ER for a CAT scan. The experience was well worth it, though, as I’ve not had much nose trouble since.

      …..We had two inches of snow back in late January, and it shut Birmingham DOWN! I loved the stuff when I was a kid, but when folks can’t get home, it kinda blows. Me, I walked home that day and got home in an hour and 15 minutes. I think the city average was about 9 hours.

      • sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

        In my military career we traveled a lot and experienced allergies in multiple environments. The best trick we came up with was to get local honey every spring and take a teaspoon a day until you don’t have any symptoms anymore.

        When you think of it, allergies are your body’s defenses working correctly against an unrecognized intruder (pollen in this case). Eating local honey trains your immune response to no longer see that substance as an unknown. Once your immune system is ‘trained’ it responds less or not at all.

        Every other treatment tends to deal with the symptoms, not the problem.

  5. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    A.R.,

    Great job as usual. You’ve really got the old ticker revved up. Just think, if our defense would have been four points better, we’d be National Champions! I think the offense and Coach M will be a plus forever and the big D seems to be getting better and better. We may just be headed for another few years of a “Pat Dye Type” defense. That would be great to go along with the HUNH offense and an experienced QB. Remember that Marshall wasn’t even at Auburn for Spring drills last year. It is truly an exciting time. The BR,LA & Mississippi contingent has already procured A-Day and Friday baseball game tickets. We are coming.

    IT’S GREAT TO BE AN AUBURN TIGER !!!

    WAR EAGLE !!!

    GO BIG BLUE !!!

  6. AUjamstan says:

    Great report! I kept expecting trolls to chime in with hate comments. Love the prospects of the upcoming season. AU football is going to a higher level. Where we’re going, we don’t need miracles, although we will take the thrills of last season and hold onto them forever,

  7. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    McKinzy-Frost flip is big news. I felt Frost would be a lock on MLB after last season. Thanks Acid for another great breakdown.