It’s Go Time
Following a week off for spring break the heavy work begins for Coach Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers in football practice. With five sessions in the books the preliminaries are done and now it’s time to get down to business with several scrimmages scheduled before the 15 days are complete.
Thatis when things should really begin to take shape for the Tigers. As is usually the case, right now there are more questions than answers on both sides of the ball.
The good news is there are some known commodities to build around, starting on defense.
Up front Marlon Davidson and Dontavius Russell give Coach Rodney Garner two guys who have delivered in the clutch and shown the consistency needed to excel in big games. The same is true at linebacker where the Tigers have four guys who have shown they can do the job--senior Tre Williams along with juniors DeShaun Davis, Darrell Williams and Montavious Atkinson.
In the secondary is perhaps the most experienced group to work with as seniors Tray Matthews, Nick Ruffin and Stephen Roberts give new Coach Greg Brown three veterans to work with at safety. At corner both Carlton Davis and Javaris Davis are back as well and should make for a solid duo to work with this fall.
On offense there are fewer established guys, but when you have running backs Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson that’s a great starting point along with fullback Chandler Cox.
Up front Braden Smith is an absolute known commodity, but playing right tackle in the spring leaves at least a question of where he will be lining up in the fall after playing guard previously. The good news so far is that he has looked good outside, giving Coach Herb Hand some good options if that continues.
In the middle starter Austin Golson also returns as does left tackle Darius James. Golson appears to be entrenched at his position while James is in a battle with Prince Tega Wanogho Jr. for the starting spot.
The leaves two very important positions on offense, quarterback and the wide receivers. With Chip Lindsey expected to throw the ball more as the new offensive coordinator, getting those two areas settled and performing well could ultimately tell the tale for the Tigers.
The next three weeks should go a long way towards answering some of those questions when the heat gets turned up on the field. At quarterback that means Jarrett Stidham, Woody Barrett and Malik Willis get a chance to show what they can do while Sean White waits in the wings as he continues to recovery from his injury.
At wide receiver which guys will step up as playmakers? Senior Jason Smith and junior Ryan Davis have the most experience, but this could be the time for sophomores Darius Slayton, Elijah Stove and Nate Craig to make a big jump along with redshirt freshman Marquis McClain.
The most proven of all performers on this team is senior kicker Daniel Carlson. There is not much more he needs to do this spring other than stay healthy and keep his leg in shape. However, the punting job is very much up in the air. Sophomore Ian Shannon has a leg up on the competition right now, but his consistency will be the key. If it’s not there then holder Tyler Stovall could become a serious threat to get in the mix.
Auburn senior catcher Blake Logan came up with perhaps the two biggest hits for Auburn baseball in a long time on Sunday. First it was a triple to set up the tying run in the seventh inning. He followed that with a leadoff single in the ninth inning to lead to the eventual game-winning run in the first sweep over Florida for the Tigers since 1987.
It may seem like just one game difference between winning two games or three games in an SEC weekend, but it’s actually a two-game swing. Being three up in the win column is a big head start for this Auburn team as it looks to get back to the postseason and Logan was a big reason why over the weekend.
It almost wasn’t to be for the Muscle Shoals native, however, as he got sick in early January and was in the hospital for almost three weeks while doctors tried to figure out what was causing his high fever. Unable to diagnose his issue, the doctors kept Logan hooked up to IV’s and that allowed him to eventually improve enough to get back to Auburn.
Blake Logan and the Tigers have a 17-5 record going into a Tuesday evening game at Georgia Tech.
By the time that happened he had lost a lot of weight and much of his muscle, so much so that the doctors told him it could be three months until he returned to the field. Instead Logan was back practicing in small doses in a matter of weeks and was ready to play on opening day.
A leader for this team who has caught five of Auburn’s seven shutouts this season and is currently batting .346 following his three-hit performance on Sunday, Logan has become a coach on the field for the Tigers and with all he’s overcome there’s nobody else that deserves a big weekend more than the senior.