The Tide spent the spring installing the Mike Price system. The question resonating in the minds of Tide fans and followers today is who will run the system now. It is very difficult to tell what will happen, but I would suspect that an assistant coach will be promoted to interim head coach. It is far too late to install a new offense and defense. Bear in mind this is their third system in 3 years.
The Price offense features 4 wide out, one back sets. The Tide may not have the athletes to run this offense proficiently, but the players have taken to the new Air raid mentality and seem hopeful to keep the new offense. Former MSU commitment Spencer Pennington likes the new system so much that he quit the baseball team to focus only on football.
The WR corps may not be the best one they could hope for, but they team gets a boost with the long awaited return of A.C. Carter. Carter missed all of last season after an unsuccessful surgery. Carter had a follow up surgery to install a titanium rod in his leg. Carter is the only player left from the SEC Championship team of 1999. With a little luck, Carter can break several school career receiving records.
The annual A Day game featured the starters vs. a collection of walk-ons and reserves. The starters routed the scrubs 47-0 and didn't punt the entire game. The reserves managed 34 yards and 2 first downs. That game may serve as a fond memory for many, as the news before and after has been poor for the Crimson masses.
The defending SEC West champions took to the spring gridiron looking to make a few changes and develop some depth on a pretty thin roster. According to reports, the offensive line should show some solid improvement. This should prove to be a huge benefit if the line can hold together. QB Matt Jones will need a little extra protection as he recovers from shoulder surgery. Word is the strength is there, but the accuracy is a little off. The situation was further compounded by a spring full of plague-like drops from the wide outs.
Hog fans are still waiting for HB Cedric Cobbs to run Hog wild. Cobbs has been slowed by injury and attitude problems. It will be very interesting to see if Cobbs can get it going early in the season. To date, he has been a major disappointment. The running game must get going if the Hogs have any shot at repeating.
The defense will be running more cover-two to account for some losses in the secondary. The defensive backfield certainly needs some work, but Coach Nutt is hoping his front four can generate a pass rush to take some pressure off his DBs.
In the spring game QB Ryan Sorohan led the Red to a 14-6 win over Matt Jones and the white squad. The offense sputtered and stumbled most of the day and the defense was happy to see it. The offense lacks a play maker and one must emerge when two-a-days start.
The Auburn Tigers opened their 2nd spring under the same defense and offense. Despite changing offensive coordinators the Tigers will run the same system as the year before. For the 1st time in his college career QB Jason Campbell is the undisputed starter. Campbell has looked over his shoulder at Daniel Cobb for the past two seasons. Campbell led the team down the stretch and won some key ball games. This is his team.
The biggest problems reported in camp were drops by the receivers and tight ends. A replacement for big play receiver Marcel Willis must be found. Another huge issue is the gaping hole at tight end. The position was a source of strength for the past few seasons thanks to Diamond and Johnson. Both are now gone and the mantle falls to SEC all frosh TE Cooper Wallace. Wallace is more of a blocking TE, but he must learn on the fly.
The running game appears to be solid with the return of Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown. Williams is still rehabbing, but should be 100% by the fall. His understudy, Brown, was perhaps the most dominating back in the league the 2nd half of the season. To add to the growing stable of tailbacks Tre Smith burst on the scene with 3 TDS in the spring game. Coaches are raving over Smith and claim they must find a way to get him the ball. These are good problems to have. If Williams is still a little slow to come back, the running game is still in capable hands.
The Auburn defense basically returns in tact with the exception of LB Mark Brown. This defense should be stifling. This group has the talent to be the best in the conference. In fact 38,000 fans came out to inspect the Tiger troops in the annual spring game. It's the potential of this defense as well as the stable of running backs that have many in Auburn yelling War Eagle.
Until next week,
Steve Robertson is a free-lance correspondent who writes The Robertson Report for the premium site portion of Gene's Page. Steve's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.