Ah, A-Day. Our last little bit of College Football methadone before we go into the long months of the offseason. Thankfully, we also have some pretty kick-ass baseball and softball going on to hold us over through much of that time.
This year's A-Day presents yet another new QB situation. Sean White is no longer on a "pitch count," but he is not going to be participating in this year's edition of the game. All eyes will, instead, be on Baylor transfer QB Jarrett Stidham.
Well, most eyes, anyway. I have a feeling the rest will be on newcomer Malik Willis, who has reportedly been wowing folks in practice and scrimmages. Sure, we want to see what Woody Barrett can do, too, but Willis is such an intriguing story as a late addition to the recruiting class just before the early enrollee period.
What we probably won't be seeing is running back Kamryn Pettway. The coaches know what they have in him. We'll probably see Kerryon Johnson a bit in his newer role of catching more out of the backfield - maybe - but expect to see a lot of Malik Miller, Kam Martin, and C.J. Tolbert.
What will the offense look like? Basic. Simple. There will probably be a lot of passing compared to previous A-Days, but nothing spectacular. With how guarded Gus Malzahn is, you're crazy if you think we're going to see Chip Lindsey's playbook opened up and the Tigers show a whole new offense.
So, what do we want to see out of A-Day?
1) Deep balls. A lot of them. About the only criticism I had of Sean White - aside from stubbornness when injured - was the touch on the deep ball. The Tigers could have added touchdown passes in almost every game last season if they had connected on some wide open deep balls a little better. So, I want to see that type of play with these quarterbacks. I want to see that Stidham can do it. I want everyone else to see it, too, so we start the season with everyone knowing that if you crowd the box, we'll take the top off and go deep.
2) How will the wide receivers look? Kyle Davis is obviously not going to be out there. How will the others step up? Will we see a lot of drops, or will we see nice route-running and good pass-catching? How will John Franklin III perform in front of the crowd at his new position? And speaking of the pass-catchers...
3) Sal Cannella. Will we see a lot of the Tigers' new tight end? I'm going to guess that we don't, honestly. Cannella has been playing in a TE/WR role, which is something Auburn has lacked the last few seasons. I'm betting we'll see plans for Cannella kept under wraps. I can hope, though, right?
4) The offensive line. What variations will it take? Who is going to play where? Will Darius James stay at Tackle? Will he move inside to Guard? Where will Braden Smith play? How does Prince Tega Wanogho look? Will we be left excited about where we are with two new grad transfers coming in to compete, too, or will we be left hoping they can come in and contribute immediately?
5) Daniel Carlson doing Daniel Carlson things. Hopefully, we won't have too many field goals, but I'd like to see Carlson is still his normal self. Maybe we can let him try one from 60+?
6) The new-look defensive line. Gone are Monty Adams and Carl Lawson. Will Marlon Davidson continue his rise? How about Derrick Brown? Paul James III is back from injury and looks to make a name for himself. Will Byron Cowart's move inside start showing promise for fans at A-Day or will we have to wait? How will redshirt freshman Nick Coe look? I'm really excited about Coe, who is a former two-time North Carolina state wrestling champion and could be a beast of a pass rusher.
7) Punt Returners. I doubt they go live at all, but will the guys they have back catching the punts haul them all in or will we see some drops?
8) No injuries. This seems like it should be a no-brainer, but we don't want to see anyone get hurt. Peyton Barber missed a season due to an injury during A-Day a few years ago. We want to see a clean, fun game that leaves people looking forward to the 2017 Auburn football season.
You're not going to see anything special tomorrow in Auburn, but you are going to see Auburn football in some form, and that's always fun in and of itself.