Photo by Jason Caldwell

Jason Caldwell Writes About Auburn Football, Softball And Basketball In His Column

Looking at Auburn's spring football practices plus big weekends for softball and baseball.

Putting A Bow On Spring Practice

The Auburn Tigers wrapped up spring football practices this past week with one session following the A-Day game and now the focus is on individual improvement as the players participate in strength and conditioning drills and do voluntary workouts to get ready for team practices to start in August.

Coming out of the spring there are certainly areas that Auburn needs plenty of work in, but also areas that are in very good shape. That starts with the defensive line where the Tigers have as much talent and depth as they have had in quite some time.

With freshman Marlon Davidson showing he belongs and other guys like senior Maurice Swain, sophomore Jeff Holland and others stepping up their games, Auburn’s front four should be a team strength in the fall. That is something that should help every area of the defense from the very start of the season and will be huge when playing a talented Clemson offense led by Heisman favorite Deshaun Watson.

On offense the position that is in the best shape coming out of the spring is running back where Jovon Robinson picked up where he left off in the bowl game and improved his stock. In better shape and now with a season of major college experience under his belt, Robinson looks like a guy who should easily surpass the 1,000-yard mark next season if he remains healthy.

With Roc Thomas and Kerryon Johnson both capable of being good options and bringing different skill sets to the offense, running backs coach Tim Horton has a variety of guys who can get the job done. Two more Tigers threw their hat into the ring during spring practice as well and may be keys for the Auburn running game in the fall.

A former tailback at Prattville turned fullback at Auburn, Kamryn Pettway showed that he hasn’t lost a step in that department and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get some carries at tailback. The same is true of Chandler Cox. Growing into his role at fullback and as an H-Back, Cox still has some moves and as a former wildcat quarterback in high school it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in that role for Auburn’s offense sometime down the road.

 

Biggest Week Of The Year For Softball Tigers

Following the expected sweep of the Arkansas Razorbacks on the road, the 41-4 Auburn Tigers will have a much stiffer challenge this week with No. 8 Florida State coming in for a Wednesday doubleheader before No. 10 Georgia visits for a three-game series over the weekend.

While it was an obvious mismatch from the first inning of the first game, what Auburn did in the three-game sweep at Arkansas was one for the record books. Outscoring the Razorbacks 54-0 in three games, all completed in just five innings, the Tigers hit 10 home runs and got production from up and down the lineup. That’s great news for Auburn as the Tigers head for the home stretch of the conference schedule in preparation for the postseason.

Maybe the biggest news is the way Auburn continues to pitch. With the offense guiding the way a season ago the Tigers made it all the way to the College World Series. This season the pitching has come on in a big way and it has made this team a serious threat once again to challenge for a national championship.

Allowing more than two runs just one time in the last nine games, Auburn’s pitching staff has an ERA of just 1.56 this season as compared to 3.59 a year ago. Opponents are batting just .192 this season with 42 total extra-base hits, a far cry from the .255 average from a season ago and 132 extra-base hits.

With the pitching continuing to do the job and an offense that is beginning to get more production from the bottom of the order, Auburn is clicking on all cylinders and if that continues this week it could be another huge step forward for the Tigers in their quest to get back to Oklahoma City.

 

Important Series Win For Baseball

As bad as things were for the baseball Tigers and Coach Butch Thompson the first four weeks of SEC play, following a series win over Tennessee they now find themselves at 5-10 in league action. With the middle of the league going back and forth the Tigers are hovering just behind that pack.

That’s impressive considering how many close games this team has lost in SEC play alone, much less for the entire season. Winning their first one-run game of the year on Saturday after dropping the first eight opportunities, the Tigers have lost six conference games by two runs or less. If the Tigers can win just one or two of those in the second half Auburn should have a great chance to make the SEC Tournament in Hoover.

Something that would help that cause would be getting injured Josh Palacios back in the outfield and continuing to play defense the way the team did in the final two games of the Tennessee series. Going without an error in consecutive games, a strong Auburn defense could turn things around in a hurry for a team that continues to fight.


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