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Spring Drills Start Next Tuesday!

By on February 24th, 2017 in Football, News 10 Comments »
Practice soon

I’m looking forward to a good spring on the practice field
(Photo by Acid Reign)

     War Eagle, everybody! It’s hard to believe that spring drills are nearly here. The calendar still says February, but it definitely feels like spring outdoors. The Tigers are getting to work early this season, and other Auburn coaches have used similar philosophies in the past. The idea is to get practice out of the way, so that if any player is injured, they’ll have more time to heal before fall camp begins. Inclement weather is less of a concern these days, thanks to indoor practice facilities.

     There should be some interesting battles this spring with a few vacancies due to graduation. However, this is as veteran and deep a team as Auburn has had in years. With the proper attitude and preparation, this team can be a championship contender. I’ll elaborate below on my questions about this team going into spring.

     How quickly can new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey install his offense? We likely won’t be shown too many wrinkles on A-Day, but we can look for whether the unit looks confused or doesn’t do little things right. With new route systems in play, this could be a great chance for receivers to move up the depth chart.

     Who will be the starting quarterback? I don’t believe this will be settled in spring practice. Last we heard officially, last year’s starter Sean White will not be able to practice due to a broken arm suffered in the Sugar Bowl. I certainly don’t think one can count him out going into fall. White really had the Auburn offense humming till injuries derailed him in November.

     Many folks expect Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham just to be handed the keys to the offense, but Auburn has some talented guys at quarterback who are unlikely to go away quietly. I don’t think last year’s staff gave John Franklin III enough of a chance late last season. The offense picked up first downs and moved the chains when he was in there late in games. Franklin is easily the most dangerous runner at quarterback. Also in the mix will be Woody Barrett, Tyler Queen, Devin Adams and Malik Willis.

     How does the Auburn defensive line shape up? The depth is pretty good, but the key will be replacing Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson. Offenses really had to account for both players when blocking, and even when the pair weren’t generating statistics, they made it nearly impossible for offenses to get anything done in the middle. A large part of Auburn’s defensive success last season came from forcing runners wide and cleaning them up out on the boundary.

     Auburn has some good ones returning on the line, including Marlon Davidson, Derrick Brown, Andrew Williams, Nick Coe, Dontavius Russell, Paul James III, Byron Cowart, and Jeffrey Holland. There will be some really good true freshmen added in this season, as well.

     Will Auburn finally develop some depth at the lead-blocker positions? Last season it was Chandler Cox and Jalen Harris, and that was pretty much it unless the team sent an extra lineman in. Some folks expect transfer Sal Cannella to step right in and start at tight end. I’ll wait and see. Cannella is listed at 230 pounds, and that seems a bit light for an SEC tight end.

     Who emerges at the top in a crowded wide receiver field? In no particular order, Auburn returns Nate Craig-Myers, Jason Smith, Kyle Davis, Eli Stove, Will Hastings, Darius Slayton, and Ryan Davis, all of whom played extensively last season.

     How will Auburn’s offensive line shake out? I figured earlier that returning starters Darius James, Austin Golson and Braden Smith would remain in their current positions, and new starters would be found at guard and right tackle. I have seen speculation that James may move inside to a guard spot, and Golson would move out to left tackle. Or, that Prince Tega Wanogho is good enough this year to just take the left tackle spot. Mike Horton is one to watch. He’s a big, strong dude. I’ve even heard talk of Braden Smith moving to right tackle. We’ll have to see how it all works out. Presumably, the team will figure it out by A-Day, and a new unit can begin gelling.

10 Comments

  1. Tiger Tiger says:

    If I remember, Sal Cannella is 6'6", which is a bit lanky for 230 lbs. And he'll be an inch shorter and 5-10 lbs lighter than he's listed. I think he'll be catching passes more than blocking, for now.

    Not worried about the interior of the D-line, with hard-working Dontavius Russell and physical freak Derrick Brown returning.

    I'm watching for Nick Coe at defensive end. Call it a feeling, but this comes from personal experience that good wrestlers are, pound-for-pound, some of the strongest people in any sport. I think this gives Coe an edge against the competition.

    Still wish we could have seen Prince Tega Wanogho at DE instead of O-line…sigh. But it is what it is. I think Golson, Smith, and James start in the middle, with Horton and Prince Tega being the tackles.

    Cannot wait for the season. War Eagle!

  2. neonbets says:

    Barring injury to Stidham (or Barrett for that matter), I don’t think there is any chance Auburn begins the season with White as starter. So, in that sense, I think QB is settled.

    The problem for White is that he’s the wrong guy for a Malzahn/Lindsey offense. If White is named as the starter, then things are going very badly with the offense. I know there are a lot of White fans here, and I don’t mean this as a criticism of White: I just think that if there is any way possible, the coaching staff wants a different type player running their offense. And there’s nothing wrong with the coaching staff felling this way, either. It’s not as if White is a special talent that warrants an entire offensive philosophy switch.

  3. Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

    As much as I like white and what he’s endured, we’ve seen the last of him. There is little to no benefit to Lindsey riding White. White is a known and while the WR limited him last year, he still isn’t enough.

    Lindsey knows that a mediocre year means they are all out of a job. He’s al ready going to struggle with the WR. He has to take a chance and hope to hit big. Stidham is the answer.

  4. ausouthal says:

    As for White my concern is his inability to hit the deep ball. Go back and look at some of the long throws he attempted the past 2 seasons. To make an offense successful there needs to be a threat of a pass play longer than 15 yds!

  5. dyingculture dyingculture says:

    On a side note, as Ole Miss is going down in flames, seems like they have every intent of taking someone down with them. Seems like Ole Miss has dirt on a recruit that signed with Miss State, and now Ole Miss is has pulled the pin on that live grenade….

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..I saw some smoke about that, as well. They mentioned that if Austin Golson transferred to Auburn, well then… Auburn must have out-bid Ole Miss!

      • Tiger Tiger says:

        Sounds like the logic people used to say that Auburn must have outbid MSU for Cam Newton. Whatever.

        To those people, I say, have you ever been to MSU? Going to Auburn for free is infinitely better than going to MSU or Ole Miss for anything short of millions of dollars. No, make that billions. I’d never go there.

    • Tiger Tiger says:

      All things considered, I find this whole Ole Miss scenario to be pretty hilarious. Would be terrific if both Mississippi schools sink back into oblivion for a decade or two.

      • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

        …..I don’t like Dan Mullen at all, thanks to the Cam situation. However, he’s done a great job for them, I think. Has done more with less. His offenses are pretty scary.