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Spring Drills Are Here!

By on March 2nd, 2017 in Football, News 7 Comments »
Receiver practice

It will be interesting to see the changes in the receiver drills
(Photo by Acid Reign)

     War Eagle, everybody! The calendar has ticked over into March, severe weather season is here, and Auburn football spring drills are back. For this year’s team, it’s out with the old, in with the new. Particularly on offense, it was revealed that things will be different in Tuesday’s first practice.

     Departing from the Tigers are Stephen Davis, Jr, Deon Mix, Cameron Toney, and Markell Boston. Boston was apparently booted from the team, and the others are likely leaving due to a lack of playing time. Auburn fans wish all of them well.

     Joining the team this spring are quarterback Jarrett Stidham, offensive lineman Nick Brahms, linebacker K. J. Britt, cornerback Malcolm Askew, tight end Salvatore Cannella, and linebacker Chandler Wooten. Stidham is the favorite of many observers to win the starting quarterback job, and instant impact from Cannella is expected in the receiving corps. Stidham, Britt and Askew all were present for Sugar Bowl practices a couple of months ago.

     I was a loud critic last spring, and again during last season, of the passing skeleton drill we saw last A-Day. I’ve included a picture from last spring, above. Receivers would run their route, stop, and then the quarterback would throw it. I wondered then, what good that drill was. During the season, I wondered if that’s how they practice all the time, as the passing game fell apart in November.

     From all indications, everything has changed under new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Chip Lindsey. Even during the media-access portion of the drills, timing routes were worked on. Coach Lindsey worked extensively with his guys on ball placement. Air-raid drills are a different animal than what we have seen in the past at Auburn. Receivers and backs will be doing a lot of running and catching if Lindsey does it like we’ve seen at other schools.

     There were some intriguing things revealed in the starting lineups, including returning starters being moved around. Interesting, but little is more meaningless than who is the starter at the beginning of spring. The starting defensive line was Marlon Davidson at end, Dontavius Russell and Derrick Brown at tackles, and Jeff Holland at buck. I figure Davidson and Russell are pretty much locks to hold their position, and Derrick Brown is just too talented to keep off the field for long. What the Tigers must do is build depth behind these guys.

     At linebacker, Auburn started with 3 at the beginning, Darrell Williams, Tré Williams, and Deshaun Davis. That’s the same starting lineup as last season. Montavious Atkinson is probably the first guy into that rotation. When the Tigers went nickel, Daniel Thomas was in first. Thomas came out of nowhere last November and was picking balls off in the Iron Bowl.

     The secondary looked familiar, as well. Carlton Davis and Javaris Davis started at the corner spots, and safeties were Tray Matthews and Stephen Roberts.

     Probably the biggest roster changes noted on the first day were on the offensive line. Apparently, Austin Golson will remain at center at least through spring. Starting guards were Marquel Harrell and Mike Horton. Darius James stayed at left tackle, and all-star Braden Smith moved out to right tackle. Horton was probably the best of the backups last season, and it’s good to see him move into a bigger role. There was talk that James might move to guard, but he apparently took his offseason workouts very seriously and is even more of a physical presence this year. Stay where you are, young man! The NFL pays left tackles very handsomely.

     The Tigers started out with Jason Smith, Nate Craig-Myers and Eli Stove starting at receiver. Of note is the fact that tight ends weren’t really featured till later in the opening salvo. Chandler Cox was the starter at H-back. Finding depth behind Cox will be important this year. The receiving corps should be bolstered later in the year when Kyle Davis and Darius Slayton return from injuries.

     The running back spot looks great right now. Everyone is healthy coming in, with Kamryn Pettway leading the way and Kerryon Johnson as a 1-A. Kam Martin looks bigger and stronger, and Malik Miller is back after an injury derailed his season last year.

7 Comments

  1. Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

    This has the makings of a very, very good team.

    As stated, my biggest question is around defensive line depth. That’s been the seperation between Auburn and Alabama. The next four up just aren’t as good. Jonathan Allen was a force on 3rd downs in 2015 because of the combination of depth and talent around him. Does Auburn have the depth to put in a rotation that can do that much damage? I don’t think so.

    But, the rest of the defense has been very good and that sure helps. I was especially happy with the back 7 last season.

    On offense, there really are no excuses. It all comes down to Kody Burns.

    • sparkey sparkey says:

      First, you mean Kodi Burns. Second, we will have plenty of depth on the DL but development issues are on Garner. Somehow, that guy never gets any blame on anything yet he can’t develop anybody.

  2. Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

    I have very high expectations for this year and this report just reinforced that. If we can’t move the ball with ease given our offensive weapons…..well, you know. WR’s as usual will be what makes a difference. WE MUST UTILIZE THE TALENT WE HAVE EFFECTIVELY. We have an embarrassment of riches at WR (which should include JFIII, in my opinion), and now at least two QB’s who can throw the ball with accuracy. These guys should be drilling to catch the ball on the fly and creating big plays with YAC. JFIII in space with the ball? Thats a touchdown.
    If they can do that it will only open up the running game that much more. Can you imagine what kind of havoc Pettway will cause if the LB’s have to cheat off the tackle to make sure they can cover for a quick slant to Stove or JFIII? CARNAGE!
    I don’t know why this stuff is so hard to incorporate but there is no excuse when you have the tools to make it happen. You’ve got 4 and 5 stars at all the skill positions (except for Pettway, whos probably the most dangerous!) behind a talented OL. Its all coaching from here.
    Until I see otherwise, I’m not concerned at all about the defense. They are good enough for us to beat anybody if the offense does what its supposed to. The only thing that should be standing in front of Auburn getting to the playoff next year is themselves and Bama. Focus and execute and they should be in the playoff, especially getting UGA and Bama at home.

  3. neonbets says:

    Great write-up, Acid. If Cowart can fulfill expectations, the D-Line will be in very good shape.

  4. hello2196 says:

    Yes, Good write up Acid. How serious are the injuries to Kyle Davis and Darius Slayton?

  5. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I have to correct my notation on Kyle Davis. He’s out on “personal business.” He’s expected back by spring break.

    …..I believe Slayton had hernia surgery a couple of months ago.

  6. JRoweMDN says:

    Rumor is JF3 is taking snaps as a WR and doing pretty well. I hope we see him produce on the field. He has too much speed to waste.

    I also agree the DL will be there this year.

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