Defensively, this team has good players up front with depth behind them. The linebackers are coming on strong and making progress.
Overall, it looks like the defense picked up where it left off in the bowl victory over Memphis to close last season. They played fast and did a good of tackling in the spring game.
Offensively, I am sure the A-Day game didn’t paint a realistic picture of where the Tigers are because the quarterbacks weren’t live. When you have a scrimmage in which the quarterbacks can’t be tackled there are probably about 10 snaps where the quarterback’s chances of making a play are taken away because the whistle blows the action dead when a defender is near the quarterback. That really handicaps the offense. Making the quarterbacks off limits to contact protects them from being injured, but it sure doesn’t help them the move the chains, especially when it comes to third down conversions.
While none of the quarterbacks in the A-Day game and clearly showed he is the obvious choice to be number one, one of the real bright spots of the game, and the spring as a whole, was the play of Kamryn Pettway and Chandler Cox. We knew they had the potential to be outstanding players at H-back. This spring they showed they have the ability to effectively run the football and they are both are good at catching passes.
I think it is important for the offensive line to come together as a unit and get settled on who is playing where. It was obvious that the second offensive line couldn’t block the first team defensive line in the A-Day game. The first team offensive front needs work, too, which isn’t surprising because of the position moves in the spring, but I think it is a group that can get there.
The Tigers need to become more consistent passing the ball by improving the chemistry between the quarterbacks and receivers. This team certainly needs several young receivers to step up like Darius Slayton, who has the talent and speed you are looking for at that position. However, Slayton needs to become more consistent. He made some terrific catches in the spring, but also dropped balls that were right in his hands.
I think senior receivers Tony Stevens and Marcus Davis improved during the spring and there are others with good speed in that group, but I do believe it will be very important that one or two of the signees are ready to contribute this fall.
With Daniel Carlson leading the way it looks like this team will be solid with the kicking game so the biggest area of need in preparing for the upcoming season is to get better offensively, which I am sure Gus Malzahn and his coaching staff understand a lot better than me.
Defensively, I think the Tigers can line up and play with anybody in the conference, especially with the improvement of the linebackers. Tre Williams and Darrell Williams, who played with the first unit on Saturday, were aggressive and were good at finding the football. The same is true of DeShaun Davis and Montavious Atkinson. I also saw Richard McBryde making some plays.
The tackling on Saturday was as good as you are going to see in a spring game and the effort was there. This team looks like it is getting great leadership from the players on defense and as the Tigers prepare for their season opener vs. Clemson the same thing needs to happen on offense. That will be critical for Auburn to develop into a complete football team.