Football season officially gets the Gus Malzahn era at Arkansas State University underway Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m.
That will mark the beginning of Malzahn's teams first spring practice of the 2012 season.
Arkansas State is coming off a 10 win season for the first time since joining the FBS and optimism and excitement in Jonesboro is at an all time high after Malzahn was named the new head coach in December.
There are several major story lines going into Malzahn's first spring camp, AStateNation decided to provide its members with the top 5 topics headed into Wednesday's Camp opener.
Story line No. 1- While Malzahn reached out and hired one of the best offensive line coaches in the country in J.B. Grimes, perhaps the biggest question this spring and fall is who will be the starting left tackle come September when the Red Wolves open with Oregon.
Everyone realize's what importance protecting your starting quarterback's blindside and that is critical considering you are returning the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year in Ryan Aplin.
We will be focusing on who starts out at the position beginning Wednesday morning, but don't forget, there are some newcomers that will also push for the position come fall camp.
Candidates include Chris Tolbert, Zach McKnight, Kevin Galindo to name a few. The two newcomers that may challenge for playing time are Jemar Clark and Devin Mondie. A dark horse in the race might be Aaron Williams.
Some might argue the number one story line is Michael Dyer, but if Grimes doesn't find a suitable left tackle it might not matter if Dyer is eligible or not.
Story line No. 2- Will Michael Dyer be eligible in the fall? Will he be granted a waiver. The current coaching staff appears to be preparing to play without him, of course that is the correct thing to say at this point.
Dyer, the MVP of Auburn's National Championship two years ago, will still have to earn his stripes and the respect of his new teammates. All reports are that he worked tremendously hard in the offseason program and is already well on his way of earning some of that respect.
If Dyer is eligible this fall there is no doubt that he will create some yards on his own. He will also take a lot of pressure off of Aplin. The senior quarterback won't have to be relied on to be the team's leading rusher.
If Dyer plays this fall, expect somewhere between 1,000 to 1,500 yards if the offensive line gels like it has the potential to, again if there is no suitable replacement at left tackle, that might not happen either.
Story line No. 3- We speak a lot about the returning offensive conference Player of the Year in Aplin, but don't forget you also lost the Defensive Player of the year in Brandon Joiner.
This defense lost a lot more than just joiner, in total there are eight or nine guys that played a lot of time for last year's must improved defensive unit.
This defensive unit is also going into the spring with its fourth defensive coordinator in two years.
How much of John Thompson's defense will get installed this spring? That's a storyline in itself.
Story line No. 4- Who will replace six year senior Tom Castilaw at the center position?
With two key positions on the offensive line being in the top five story lines, maybe you now understand what I said about story line No. 2.
Eric Allen and Tyler Greve are two guys that will see a lot of action and will have the entire spring to prove that they are going to be the guy at the position come fall. Incoming freshman Bryce Giddens has been touted by Malzahn as having the talent to be a four year starter, not if Allen and Greve have anything to say about it.
How important is the center position?
It's critical in this high pace offensive scheme. Bad snaps can't happen, and the center is the mastermind or the on the field general for the entire line for picking up what the defense is bringing. He has to be that leader the rest of the offensive line looks up to, whoever it will be will have big shoes to fill.
Story line No. 5-How will this team react to its third head coach in three years? Yes there is more excitement than ever with Malzahn being named head coach, but how will the team buy into his new system and his new coaching staff?
Malzahn has already said that this spring is about his team earning a starting role. That all positions are up for grabs.
Expect this spring camp to be more competitive than recent camps. Both the players on the team and the coaching staff have a lot to prove to each other.
All spring practices will be closed to the general public. The media will be allowed to attend for the first 20 minutes of each practice and then will return at the end to interview players and coaches.
Stay tuned to AStateNation.com for complete spring practice coverage.