AUBURN, Ala. — If you've seen Auburn's A-Day game either of the past two years, consider yourself ready for Saturday. According to coach Gus Malzahn, this year's game will resemble the past two both in how the roster is divvied up as well as the scoring format.
"We're a little banged up, but it will be similar to last year and the year before," he said. "We'll have two different groups. Put the offense on one sideline and the defense on the other sideline."
The last two editions of Auburn's annual intrasquad contest in Jordan-Hare Stadium has seen the Tigers put their No. 1 unit on both offense and defense against their backups. But players aren't beholden to staying on either the "blue" or the "white" team. Skill players regularly move back and forth between both teams, giving the coaching staff a chance to observe how players fit into different formations and personnel groupings.
Of course, no position will be more closely watched than quarterback. This year, rising junior Jeremy Johnson is trying to fend off redshirt freshman Sean White. While Malzahn said he hasn't decided how he'll split up the snaps between the two, he said both Johnson and White will get their fair share of playing time. Early enrollee Tyler Queen will play as well.
And offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee has already drawn up blueprints, in a figurative sense, of how many reps each quarterback will take this Saturday. He just has to run it by Malzahn first.
"Coach and I haven't really sat down and discuss how we'll do A-Day. ... We'll get with coach, and whatever direction we're going to do with the big picture in how we're going to do A-Day, then we'll decide how we'll rep those guys," Lashlee said. "But I want to give them both good opportunities. I think they're working hard and earned it, and we want to see what they can do with people around."
In 2013, Jonathan Wallace and Kiehl Frazier worked with both the first- and second-team offenses. Last year was different; with Nick Marshall firmly in place as the starter, he stayed with the first-team while Johnson led the second-team.
Malzahn said by Thursday, he and Lashlee will have their A-Day quarterback game plan mapped out.
But this Saturday isn't just important for the quarterbacks. It's important for other players who want to prove they are worthy of playing time this fall. Even that, however, only shares the top priority in Malzahn's mind.
To him, Saturday is about putting forth a product that makes it enjoyable for those who file into the stadium.
"We're playing in front of a big crowd. We want to make it worth our fans' time," he said. "And at the same time, from a coaches' standpoint, we want to see how our guys perform in front of a crowd. We're really looking forward to that."