Still More Work To Do On Offense
When talking about Auburn’s A-Day on Saturday you have to begin with the quarterbacks. Doing this job for 17 years I have come to expect vanilla from the Tigers in the spring game and with Gus Malzahn in charge that has become even more of the case. With that being said, Saturday’s showing by the quarterbacks didn’t set the world on fire but, it wasn’t a terrible day across the board when you pull back the curtain.
In my opinion the guy who won the day was sophomore Sean White, who ran the offense efficiently and looked to be much closer to the guy who played well when healthy last season. While he’s not a threat to make a lot of big plays running the football, White does have the legs to get a first down here or there and that could be huge for Auburn's offense.
Next up is junior college transfer John Franklin. Still a little shaky at times throwing the ball, he was pretty solid on the short routes and had some zip on the ball. With a big part of his game limited on A-Day wearing a no-contact jersey, his running ability, it was an up and down performance for him, but that was to be expected.
That brings us to Jeremy Johnson. At first glance I thought it was a terrible performance from the former starter because of the incompletions and overthrows, but at second glance he had some nice plays and several overthrows came when guys weren’t open. If Darius Slayton makes a late grab on a very catchable deep ball then Johnson’s stats look better. It’s still not the performance you’re looking for out of your senior quarterback, however, and that’s the biggest thing to consider for the coaching staff heading into the summer.
Something that impacts the passing game is a strong running attack, and much like I expected we only got to see a small glimpse of that. Jovon Robinson had 83 yards on just 10 carries and still looks like the guy who could carry the load for the Tigers in the fall. Throw in just three carries for Roc Thomas and no Kerryon Johnson and this Auburn offense should look much, much different when Clemson rolls into Jordan-Hare Stadium on Sept. 3. With Kamryn Pettway and Chandler Cox both showing they are capable of helping out this offense by touching the football it means even more weapons for the Tigers.
Kamryn Pettway showed running ability to go along with physical play.
With three catches for 88 yards, Marcus Davis showed he can be a dependable receiver this fall and that is not a surprise. He has been that guy since his freshman year, but the Tigers need more than one to get the job done. Jason Smith is still developing, but he along with Ryan Davis should be threats in the speed game as well as quick game.
Outside Tony Stevens didn’t have much of a chance to show what he can do, but he made a solid play over the middle. Slayton’s missed opportunity for the deep ball was his chance to grab momentum heading into the summer.
Now the wide receiver reinforcements will arrive on the field in preseason with Kyle Davis expected to be full speed and incoming freshmen Nate Craig, Elijah Stove and Marquis McClain joining the team. All four have the ability to make a major impact for Coach Kodi Burns in the fall and that’s going to be needed for the Tigers.
Up front the offensive line has a strong middle led by guards Alex Kozan and Braden Smith. The move of center Austin Golson to left tackle looks to be permanent after he spent much of the spring there and with Xavier Dampeer stepping up at center that should solidify things. Throw in Robert Leff at right tackle and the offensive line looks to be in good shape.
T.J. Davis (13) and Antwuan Jackson (52) close in on wide receiver Jason Smith.
Solid Defensive Effort
Even without talented cornerback Carlton Davis, Auburn’s defense continued its strong play in the spring with a big day on Saturday. That started up front where Carl Lawson looked to be closer to his old self than at any time since the season opener against Louisville last year. With true freshman Marlon Davidson providing a physical presence on the other side and Jeff Holland showing playmaking skills, the defensive end position is in much better shape right now than at any time last year.
In the middle the depth is there for the Tigers with Montravius Adams, Devaroe Lawrence, Dontavius Russell and Maurice Swain all showing they can get the job done. With true freshman Antwuan Jackson getting experience this spring and Derrick Brown coming in this fall, Auburn should be as deep as they’ve been in years at tackle.
The position that has the least experience comes out of the spring in very good shape with Travis Williams getting the linebackers playing well. That culminated with a solid performance on A-Day where the group showed sure tackling and some playmaking ability. Tre Williams is a known commodity and played well, but the story was DeShaun Davis, Darrell Williams and Montavious Atkinson. All three showed they are more than capable of getting the job done with Darrell Williams looking like a future standout for the Tigers.
Rounding out the defense was a secondary that played well even without Carlton Davis. Redshirt freshmen Jamel Dean and Javaris Davis should both help this team as should sophomore Markell Boston at safety. A player that the Tigers need to find a way to get on the field is walk-on Mike Sherwood. All he does is make plays.
Darrell Williams looks to be a good fit for Auburn's defense because of his size and speed
Daniel Carlson picked up where he left off last season and should once again be one of the best kickers in the entire country. The good news came from the punting game as Kevin Phillips and redshirt freshman Ian Shannon both showed good legs even on a very windy day. Shannon was particularly impressive and could challenge Phillips in a big way between now and the season opener.