JEFF HOLLAND (PHOTO BY JASON CALDWELL)

Jason Caldwell's Monday Morning QB Column: Players To Watch For Auburn Spring Football Practice

Looking at Auburn's spring practice and two players to watch, baseball and softball home openers a success.

Jeff Holland (above) will be a junior for the 2017 football Tigers.

Spring Thoughts

There is no doubt the quarterback position will get much of the attention for the Auburn Tigers when they take the field next week, but there are other guys who will definitely be on my radar when they take the field on Feb. 28.

Maybe the top of the list for me is offensive lineman Prince Tega Wanogho Jr. With the size and athleticism to be an impact player, he has the ability to give Auburn a true blind side tackle in 2017. It’s not just what he is able to bring if everything comes together, but what it would mean for the offensive line as a whole if he takes over the left tackle position.

Having Tega step up would give the Tigers an opportunity to take a look at different rotations, starting with Braden Smith bumping out to right tackle. With guys like Mike Horton and Marquel Harrell both very capable of taking over at guard, not to mention Darius James, who played left tackle last season but may be better suited to play guard, Auburn has options if Tega steps up in the spring.

On the other side of the ball a guy I’m ready to watch is Jeff Holland. With Carl Lawson gone the Jacksonville, Fla., native will have the first chance to become the go-to guy for the Tigers coming off the edge. The only player on the roster with any true experience at the buck position, Holland will get a challenge from redshirt freshman Nick Coe in the spring and his experience should give him the upper hand when they take the field. The wildcard could be junior Paul James. Missing much of the 2016 season with an injury, James has the ability to play the buck, but has the size to put his hand on the ground as well.

 

Solid Start For Baseball Tigers

With four games in three days to open the weekend and two more midweek games coming up, Coach Butch Thompson and the Tigers jumped into the new season with both feet and so far, so good.

The biggest thing was the performance of the pitching staff from top to bottom. While there were late struggles in the game three loss, overall Auburn’s pitchers did a good job to start the year. Walking just five and striking out 27 in 36 innings pitched, they held the opposition to a .231 average while posting an ERA of 2.50.

At the plate the Tigers hit .295 as a team and struck out just 10 times in four games. That’s a far cry from the last few seasons, showing the work that hitting coach Doug Sisson has done with this team to make them a better two-strike hitting team.

Now the strain begins for this team with five more games coming between now and Sunday, beginning Tuesday night against Jacksonville State. That means in a span of nine games the Tigers will play nine games, something that will test the depth of this pitching staff to the max.

 

Offense Comes To Life For Softball Tigers

Struggling with just a .220 average the first nine games of the season, Auburn pounded out 13 hits on Sunday in a big 10-1 win over Mercer. It couldn’t have come at a better time for the Tigers with the pitching carrying the torch for the season to this point with the exception of Carlee Wallace and Kendall Veach.

Getting production at the top of the order from Wallace, Haley Fagan and Veach with Victoria Draper putting up career highs for runs scored and hits with three, Auburn has gotten better at the plate and if that continues then things will be very fun at Jane B. Moore Field when combined with the pitching of Makayla Martin and Kaylee Carlson.

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