Three Bold Predictions for A-Day
Could another running back outshine Kamryn Pettway on A-Day?
As usual, Acid Reign did a fantastic job in laying out his Five Burning A-Day Questions. I have to admit that he was spot-on last spring with his live analysis as we sat together with AubTigerMan, specifically on Auburn’s receiving corps. I’d venture to say that, once again, the answers to his burning questions will define Auburn’s 2017 season.
Spring football is the perfect time for speculation and pretty much every other pertinent question has been asked wither here or on other message boards, radio talk shows, or TV. Truth be told, most of the questions are softballs such as “which QB will shine,” “will Sean White play,”or “will the receivers show development?” Let’s speculate on some wilder topics.
Kam Martin will be the offensive MVP At first glance, this probably seems a little crazy, considering the expectations for Jarrett Stidham and the press coverage given to his competition, notably the questions surrounding Sean White’s health and return to the field and the rise of Malik Willis. Factor in Auburn’s wealth of playmakers, especially in the backfield, and it seems outrageous that last year’s garbage-time running back could be the offensive MVP. Considering, however, that the past five A-Day MVPs have been transfers of some sort, it’s might not be so outrageous .
Like Stidham, Martin is a transfer from Baylor, but the QB is at the mercy of both the play calling and his receivers. Furthermore, Stidham will be limited by his mix-and-match offensive line and the amount of playing time he is afforded due to Auburn’s depth at the position. Stidham’s chances of playing beyond the first possession of the second half are nil. Martin, on the other hand, is in a position to play the bulk of the spring game with Kam Pettway and Kerryon Johnson likely to miss the majority, if not all, of the game.
In addition, the playing style expected under new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey plays right into Martin’s strengths.While I expect Martin to receive a hefty share of the carries,he will really shine in the passing game. Not only does Lindsey’s offense feature passes to running backs out of the backfield, but Auburn’s receiver woes and rotating offensive line will make it very easy for whoever is at QB to dump it off to the speedy Martin. All this adds up to Martin seeing 20+ carries and perhaps five receptions. Inside the red zone, he will be the feature weapon with his new bulk and versatility.
Defense Will Win, Again The 2016 A-Day game left a lot of fans scratching their heads. Sure, most expected vanilla play calling, but fans didn’t expect the offense to struggle and be a dreadful 1–22 on third down conversions. The highlights of the day were long runs by virtually unknown and under appreciated players, Kam Pettway and Chandler Cox. By season’s end, fans realized that the offense was held together by duct tape and baling wire while the defense was a truly surprising national contender.
Sure, Auburn lost some very, very good talent and a lot of production to the NFL and graduation. The starting front four and the back four are going to look significantly different this year, but the production won’t change. Auburn’s front four, in particular, is going to be a good group. Can they be great? It remains to be seen, but they should be good enough to continue to give Auburn’s offensive line trouble on A-Day. Auburn’s back four will be as good as any group in the last few years, but it is the linebackers that are going to win the day for the defense. A group that played very well last year will be even better.
Expect Turnovers There aren’t typically a lot of turnovers in Auburn’s spring games, but that may change this year. In Auburn’s last scrimmage, the defense took a tipped pass in for six points. Auburn’s young secondary shows great promise. Up until the lackluster Sugar Bowl, Auburn had at least one interception in eight straight games, including four in the last two regular-season contests. As Acid Reign pointed out, last season’s receivers were not coached to catch the ball in stride. Assuming this strategy hasn’t changed, it sets up the Auburn defense to pick off even more passes.