People will flock to the Plains for all number of reasons this weekend, but the largest draw will be A-Day. Auburn's annual spring football game will bring thousands upon thousands of folks to the Plains almost to the level of a football Saturday in order to receiver their football methadone.
Auburn fans will be hoping to see for themselves what the 2015 edition of the Auburn Tigers football team will look like. The only problem is that it's not going to be a very good measuring stick at all.
Sure, there are some things you can take away from it. We'll get to those. But first let's get to a few things you shouldn't pay too much attention to.
Things NOT to Watch For
If you think whether Auburn is run-heavy or pass-heavy in the A-Day game this season means a thing for what we can expect in the fall, then I've got a little parcel of land on the Moon I'd like to talk to you about. You can start building there immediately. It's a real investment opportunity. I just visited it the other day to make sure everything was in good shape.
This is an open scrimmage. College football coaches are very secretive now-a-days with their closed practices, and it's not like they're going to suddenly open up the playbook and give the fans a view of every possible play they may run. You're going to see a lot of very vanilla play-calling. If we run a lot of sweeps or none at all, it doesn't mean anything.
2) How Good of a Runner is Jeremy Johnson?
I doubt there will be any called runs for JJ during A-Day, but even on times he does take off, it's going to be "touched and down" by the officials. He is not going to be live. We will not get to see whether he can break away from a defense. We will not be able to see how well he can scramble out of trouble in the pocket. If the defense gets close to him, the refs will blow the whistle.
3) How Improved is the Defense Secondary?
Too many injuries and players limited in their roles right now to make any real determination on just how Will Muschamp's defense is any better (or worse) than last season. There are just entirely too many players in the defensive secondary that are injured. There will be things that are noticeable, sure. But nothing that will let us definitively say whether they're better, the same, or regressed.
Things You CAN Watch For
1) The Quarterbacks' Timing and Accuracy
Want to know how the quarterbacks are doing? Watch for the passes they throw. Are they accurate? Are they leading the receiver perfectly? How's the touch on the deep ball? On the slant routes? Are they reading the defenses and making throws in traffic? Are they forcing things? These are things you can see. If the quarterbacks are making horrible throws that are too soft, too strong, into coverage, at the receivers' feet, etc, then you can worry a bit. If they're nailing everything, then maybe you can start to acknowledge that we have some good quarterbacks.
2) Are the Receivers Catching the Ball?
We've had some issues with drops, so if you want to know if our receivers are going to be good, then you can watch to see if they're running crisp routes. Are they catching easy passes? Are they dropping ones they shouldn't? Unfortunately we may not see Tony Stevens, so who knows if we'll get a full picture of the receivers for this season.
3) How Intense is the Defense?
Are they pursuing to the ball? Over pursuing? Wrapping up tackles? Do they look like they're having fun? These questions may not tell us everything, but they'll give us some more hope that Will Muschamp has infected the defense with his intensity and that they're going to go all out this season.
4) The Center Position
Sure, it's not a sexy skill position, but the Center is a big part of the offense, and Auburn will be replacing a four year starter. So watch this one and see how they look. I remember the 2011 Spring Game and the center race between Blake Burgess and Reese Dismukes. Burgess was good and I think he would have done a great job, but Reese had something special at the position from the start. Will Xavier Dampeer take over the role in his final season of eligibility or will Ole Miss transfer Austin Golson win the job?