Spring preview: Which questions need to be answered?
So…who’s going to be the Quarterback?
This is the most obvious question that all of us want answered. Last season’s quarterback situation was like three teenage girls trying to impress the captain of the football team – each one will get their chance to impress, but he’ll cycle through them all faster than you can say ‘Kwortaback’.
Currently, Auburn has four very raw prospects, but only two have real SEC experience. Clint had a brief stint as a starter after the benching of Trotter, and Frazier enjoyed his occasional run up the gut. The one fans are obviously pulling for is Frazier, the highly-touted, Arkansas native has an entire spring and summer to learn under Lefty and push for the starting spot. Clint will be right there with him, and it will be interesting to see who takes the reigns.
Frazier’s arm is still a bit of a worry, but you can clearly see that the potential is there. Clint was always a bit inconsistent for my liking, he can make the odd throw, but when it came down to it, he didn’t have that “it” factor that you need in a quarterback. He will be entering his junior year, so I hope that he’ll put this off-season to correct use and work on becoming a stronger, efficient player.
I hope either one of them puts their past experience to good use and steps up early on. We will need a quarterback this year, and everyone knows it.
If you play wide receiver, please stand up
Auburn lacked a second consistent wideout last season, specifically someone who could stretch the field, go up and make the big play. Emory Blake is clearly our best guy, and we all know he can ball, but I want to see someone else step up in the spring and become a deep man – someone who can take on corners, consistently get open and catch everything that comes their way. If Blake gets injured again, someone has to pick up the slack.
If I’m looking at any potential deep threats, the three I’d be looking at are Coates, Benton and Williams. Benton is one of our most experienced receivers, who still hasn’t been able to put it all together. Williams will come in with a clear shot to become a starter, and if he’s willing to do everything asked of him, he can contribute immediately. Coates is the obvious player everyone is looking at to hit their potential – he is a tall receiver with killer speed, and is now reportedly up to 200 lbs (!!!).
Blake is a hell of a slot man, but he clearly needs help. We need a vast array of weapons to beat good defences, and if we can develop a receiver even remotely close to the likes of AJ Green, Michael Floyd or Sammy Watkins, we should be very tough to handle on offence.
We need some safeties, ya’ll
It’s been a while since Auburn has had a dominant safety, a ballhawk, a player that will do whatever it takes to make sure that the wideout doesn’t catch the ball. With a new defensive-back coach in Martinez, we’ll eventually have two SEC caliber safeties that VanGorder will use to his advantage. There is still no clear starter at the position going into next season, the three front-runners are Ryan Smith, Erique Florence and Demetruce McNeal. McNeal was a starter last season, but had lost his way after a while and seemed to struggle quite consistently. Ryan Smith showed a few nice flashes, and Florence was just oozing “future star”.
If I’m looking for someone to step up, for me it has to be Florence and Smith. Smith was one of the underrated defensive players last year, and made a few nice plays, including his game-winning goal-line stop on Chris Relf.
Games are won and lost in the trenches
Last years offensive line was poor, that’s all there is to really say about it, just an extremely poor unit. Luckily, we have Jeff Grimes to sort out the line, and I hope he can get the best out of the unit this year, particularly left-tackle. The position has been left vacant by AJ Greene, who didn’t exactly have the best of seasons. Regardless, we have a few young backups that should shine in spring practices, particular redshirt tackle Greg Robinson. I expect him to make the big push for the spot after taking a year out to redshirt.
We all know we have a long list of good runningbacks, but without an offensive line to block for them they won’t be very effective. This unit has to get better. Much better.
Some of you may have more questions for me, but these are the four in which I’m most concerned about. I’ll be paying close attention this year, and seeing how each position pans out. Overall, the team has potential in all areas, but it’s up to these players to meet their own potential.
If you have any of your own questions for this team, please comment below. War Eagle!