While there are questions surrounding every position on the field with a new staff coming in ready to evaluate position by position, the biggest may be at quarterback under the guidance of new coordinator Gus Malzahn.
Coaching the position the last two seasons while also the offensive coordinator at Tulsa, Malzahn tutored a pair of players into the two top seasons for a quarterback in school history running his hurry up/no huddle offense.
In 2007 Paul Smith completed 327-544 passes for 5,065 yards and 47 touchdowns with 19 interceptions. Last season David Johnson took over the starting duties and was just as good with 4,059 yards and 46 touchdowns with 18 interceptions on 258-400 passing.
Implementing a new system will be one of two big challenges for Malzahn in the spring. The other will be finding a quarterback to step up out of a large group of contenders. With four scholarship quarterbacks going through the spring, Malzahn will have the chance to see how each stacks up athletically and in running his offense.
Malzahn says that he is entering spring with an open mind on the quarterback situation and there is no depth chart at the position yet.
Kodi Burns is a player who Malzahn is already very familiar with after recruiting him for Arkansas while an assistant coach with the Razorbacks. Playing in 10 games in 2008 with seven starts, Burns completed 94-179 passes (52.5 percent) for two touchdowns and seven interceptions as a sophomore.
Playing in Malzahn's system, which relies on accuracy from the quarterback to keep the offense running smoothly, Burns will have to seriously improve those numbers if he hopes to be the man for the Tigers in 2009.
Splitting time with Burns before a sore shoulder put an end to his junior year, Chris Todd is still recovering from surgery and may not be able to go all out during spring practice. Last year he completed 84-156 passes for five touchdowns and six interceptions. Without full strength in his shoulder, it will be tough for Todd to make a big move in the spring.
That could leave the door open for little-used reserve Neil Caudle and redshirt freshman Barrett Trotter. Entering his third spring with the Tigers, Caudle played in two games last season and completed 4-5 passes for 32 yards. Very athletic with a strong arm, Caudle has been the odd man out under coordinators Al Borges and Tony Franklin, but will have his chance to shine with Malzahn running the show.
A talented player who almost worked his way into the playing rotation last season before deciding to stick with a redshirt, Trotter has grown since arriving in Auburn and has the physical skills to challenge for the starting job. Playing in a spread system in high school at Briarwood Christian, Trotter's combination of running and throwing should make him someone to watch in the spring.
Auburn is scheduled to open spring football practice on March 24 with the annual A-Day Game set for April 18 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.