Five Burning Questions for A-Day.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Five Burning Questions for A-Day.

A day of great fun!
(Photo by Acid Reign.)

     Each year I do this sort of post before A-Day, and each year the questions tend to be pretty similar. I’ll be in Jordan Hare Stadium again Saturday, with a camera in one hand and a roster in the other. The game kicks off at 3:00 PM, and will be televised on the SEC Network. The pundits say that nothing can be learned from A-Day. I feel differently. In particular, issues on the line tend to linger into the fall.

     This time a year ago, my biggest concern was with the offensive line. I was worried about shuffling the lineup. The defensive line largely had their way that spring. Offensive line shuffling continued all the way through the 2017 season, and Auburn had pass protection issues against the better defenses.

     I wondered how vanilla the offense would be, or would the team actually throw the ball around? The answer was that Jarrett Stidham and the other quarterbacks lit up the stadium against vanilla coverage schemes. If Stidham was given time, he was deadly. That proved to be true during the season, as well.

     Could the Auburn receivers get open? Outside guys against the starting corners, not so much. Slot receivers were running free all day. During the season, Ryan Davis and Will Hastings tore some SEC secondaries up.

     I wondered how deep the Auburn backfield was, and if Auburn would have any healthy options by November. KJ and Pettway didn’t play much, and I liked how the backups played. They did not do much when called upon, in the post-season last year.

     This year, once again, my chief concern is with the offensive line. Will they have a chance against a deep defensive front? Last year’s shaky unit lost a handful of seniors, but there is some experience returning. Maybe it is just wishful thinking on my part, but I am confident that offensive line coach J. B. Grimes will have a solid group of starters by the time the season starts. Will they look polished on A-Day?

     How badly will the Auburn offense be hurt by Jarrett Stidham sitting out this spring, rehabbing a shoulder? I’m sure that there will be timing issues. However, at least it wasn’t the first year, where the offense was being installed.

     Can a deep Auburn receiving corps survive the serious injuries that seem to keep cropping up this spring? It is definitely time for the next man up, in some spots.

     Can the backup quarterbacks effectively run the whole offense? If not, the team is just one injury away from disaster next fall. The offense tanked in 2015 and 2016, when the presumed starter could not produce or was injured.

     How will a rebuilt secondary fare against dangerous receivers? It may not matter if the backup quarterbacks can’t find and hit the open man. However, I will be looking to see if guys are running around wide open.

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