Of course, if you love football, spring practice is not all work, but for everybody it is a time to work on fundamentals and do it in a full-speed, high level of intensity way with no game plans or opponents to worry about for months.
Auburn had a young football team last fall and most of those guys are back as the Tigers start spring practice this week. Whether it is the guys going through their first college spring training or players who have been on campus for several years, this is a great time to become a better football player and in the process show your coaches you can be counted on to do the right things that will help your team win games in the fall.
There are a few guys who come in as freshmen who are ready to be immediate impact players, but for most of the young players on the Auburn team, and other teams around the country, spring practice is a time to get better individually as well as learn assignments for the fall.
With Auburn having new coordinators on both offense and defense there will be a lot of learning to do, even for the juniors and seniors. My expectation is that there is going to be a lot of change in 2012, particularly on the offensive side of the football. Look for new coach Scot Loeffler to put his personality into the offense and from everything I've heard and gathered, Auburn fans are going to like it.
Scot Loeffler made the move from Temple this year to coach the Auburn quarterbacks and coordinate the offense.
I expect there to be changes on defense, too, with Brian VanGorder running the show, but my guess is that it won't be as noticeable scheme-wise as the changes are going to be on offense.
It will be important for the coaches to come out of spring practice understanding what the team's strengths and weaknesses are and how the team is going to attack opponents in the fall. Those are the things that need to get ironed out in the spring. While doing that the coaches have to figure out which players they can trust to get the job done on Saturdays this fall and which players are questionable.
If a team comes out of the 15 days of spring practice with weaknesses in certain areas, the coaches have a long time to figure out what needs to be done to address those issues before taking the field again in August for preseason drills.
By the time the spring football game arrives in April, I will be excited to see what new faces emerge at Auburn and what their roles are likely to be on the 2012 team. It is also fun to see some of the veterans make progress. With practice getting started this week it won't be long until we get an early look at the Tigers.
As a head coach it is important to make physical progress and mental progress during the 15 days of spring. It is especially important that the players and coaches come out of spring with a feel-good attitude about their team and where the program is headed. To me that is a critical part of the formula for success.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor's Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.