After a long winter of discontent, it's finally here again: Game week! Well, maybe not exactly game week, but we'll take it. While Saturday's A-Day won't get the juices flowing like a fall weekend on the Plains, this Saturday does hold a lot of anticipation for Auburn people. With practices closed all spring, fans will finally get an opportunity to see what progress has been made over the past month.
On Saturday, Auburn held its second scrimmage of the spring inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. Those in attendance say the wide receivers really stepped up. "The thing that I liked was our yards after catch," said Auburn Coach Gene Chizik. "Wide receivers were really making some guys miss."
Chizik also had praise for the running backs and the defensive line. "Today our backs did a nice job hitting some seams," said Chizik. "My suspicion is that it was probably 50-50 today. Our defensive line did a really nice job at times of controlling the line of scrimmage, and there were other times when backs hit some creases and gained some yards."
There's been a lot of buzz coming from the practice field from those fortunate enough to get an invite. More than one person has come away talking about the chemistry on the team this year. That's a promising sign, but it's still just April. True chemistry is built during those long, hot "voluntary" summer workouts. But it's a promising sign nonetheless.
Talking to some friends who attended practice last week, they came away with some interesting observations. All said the size and quickness of Cam Newton will blow you away. In their opinion, Newton is clearly the number one quarterback right now. Barrett Trotter was running with the second team and Neil Caudle was playing with the third unit. Obviously, the situation is still fluid and Saturday will be a big day for all the quarterbacks.
At running back, Mario Fannin has separated himself from the others. Those at practice say he appears a step faster than last year. The big question remains whether or not his shoulder can withstand 15-20 hits a game. Former running backs coach Eddie Gran firmly believed it could not. Gus Malzahn apparently has other ideas.
Ontario McCalebb was equally impressive. It will be interesting to see the impact freshman Michael Dyer has when he arrives in June. Look for the 5-8, 201 pound Dyer to put on a little weight by August practice.
While A-Day games are typically vanilla affairs, fans should get a good idea of the quarterback situation and how much the wide receivers have improved. Defense will be a different story. With blitzing prohibited, defensive coordinator Ted Roof will be playing with one hand tied behind his back. Then again, he probably felt that way all last season.
All A-Day tickets are general admission and can be purchased prior to game day at the Auburn Ticket Office located in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., and on game day beginning at 8 a.m.
Tickets are also now available at Anders Bookstore, Big Blue Bookstore, J&M Bookstore (both locations), Tiger Rags and the University Bookstore.
A free post-game autograph session with Coach Gene Chizik, the Auburn coaching staff and players will be held on Pat Dye Field inside Jordan-Hare Stadium following the game.