After coaching college football for so many years the end of the 4th of July holiday period reminds me that the season is not too far away.
I remember distinctively this is the time of year when the expressions on faces begin to change. The coaches are getting back from vacation and are turning their focus to getting ready for preseason practices. The offensive and defensive staffs are meeting together to go over every detail of every situation that can occur.
In addition to going over what they are going to do offensively, defensively and with special teams, they also are determining the personnel they are going to go with to start the season. Often somebody emerges as a player who is ready to contribute that the coaches had doubts about earlier in the year, and that is a good thing when it happens, but by this stage of the process the coaches have a really good idea about who they will be counting on to win games.
The players have been doing their thing this summer. In addition to their scheduled workouts with the strength and conditioning staff, the ones who are really motivated to do well find ways to get in extra workouts.
This time of year is particularly important for the incoming freshmen. With the chance to get those players in for spring semester classes or for one or both of the summer sessions, those newcomers have the advantage of getting adjusted to college life and the expectations for a scholarship athlete in the SEC.
I believe an early arrival makes it much easier for those players to earn early playing time than the way it was traditionally done with the signees showing up on campus in August just in time to begin team practices. Now they have a lot better idea of what type of competition they will be facing and several months to prepare for it.
In Auburn’s case this is an important time for guys who were injured to take advantage of the training staff and facilities to rehab and be as ready as possible to compete when the season starts in September vs. Louisville. Players like defensive lineman DaVonte Lambert and offensive lineman Alex Kozan, a pair of talented players with starting experience who were limited in the spring, can get ready to take back their starting spots this fall after coming back from surgeries.
With SEC Media Days starting next week the interest in football is going to grow leading through the start of the season. I know I am excited about the season in general and this Auburn team in particular. I think the Tigers will have a good team and with the schedule Auburn plays in the SEC West there won’t be any guessing about that--we will know for sure. I do know that Auburn's player represenatives for media days, quarterback Jeremy Johnson, linebacker Kris Frost and cornerback Jonathan Jones, are all good players and there are plenty more of them on the 2015 roster.
How good the Tigers will be remains to be seen. I think this group has enough talent to grow into a great team if it develops the type of chemistry needed to win close games as well as the mental toughness to handle the grind of an SEC schedule, which are both easier said than done.
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