Auburn holds its annual A-Day exhibition game Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The format of the game will be similar to years past with the roster split up into two teams.
Last week, coach Gus Malzahn said he expects to run more than 100 plays in the game. Coaches will hand out MVP awards to the top offensive, defensive and specialty players.
Fans are eager to see the program’s many new faces and how the team responds following a second straight disappointing season.
Here are the most intriguing position battles going into Saturday….
Auburn’s depth chart is shaping up at most positions, but wide receiver is a major exception.
Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee called it “fairly open-ended” when discussing the competition on Thursday. He also shot down Marcus Davis talk of the senior being the group’s go-to-guy.
“We don’t have a go-to guy yet to be honest with you,” Lashlee said. “I would say Marcus is the most dependable guy we’ve got.”
Auburn’s lack of experience has created a level playing field. Coach Gus Malzahn and Lashlee have talked up Ryan Davis and Darius Slayton in recent days, but can they shine on A-Day? Or will Auburn’s best hope at the position be players arriving this summer?
“You’ve got five guys out there, you’ve got the four freshmen and Stanton Truitt, who hasn’t been able to go, that from a depth perspective we’ve had only five or six guys going all spring and that’s tough,” Lashlee said. “That will really help us when we get that other crew in.”
The competition on Auburn’s defensive line might not be as cutthroat as other spots. The Tigers are going to roll through the season with a large rotation of guys up front, but the intriguing names and combinations at the position make it one to watch.
“We've got some talented guys who can rush the passer,” Auburn defensive lineman Carl Lawson said. “I'm excited about that.”
Lawson is one of the veterans in the mix along with seniors Montravius Adams and Devaroe Lawrence. Earlier this spring, Lawrence outlined some lofty goals for himself.
“I want to win the Outland (Trophy) and the Lombardi (Award), if you ask me,” Lawrence said. “I got some real high expectations for myself."
The Outland Trophy goes to the nation’s top interior defensive lineman and the Lombardi Award goes to the country’s top lineman or linebacker.
Auburn’s has three early enrollees at the position — Marlon Davidson, Antwuan Jackson and junior college transfer Paul James III — and a number of returning underclassmen led by last year’s top rated recruit Byron Cowart hoping to make an impact this season.
“The competition with guys coming in and stuff, you don’t want to get passed up,” Cowart said. “You want to take the coaching and get better, I feel like I’m getting there, but I’m not there yet.”
Not exactly what you would call a shocker.
Auburn hasn’t settled on a starter at the most important position on the field and the three-way battle shows little sign of wrapping up. The plan for Saturday is to have Jeremy Johnson, Sean White and John Franklin III split reps with the first and second team evenly.
Lashlee is pleased with how the competition has unfolded and sees A-Day as another important evaluation tool for the coaching staff.
“I feel like those two guys (Johnson and White) are in a much better place and have really improved and I’ve liked the way John has picked up things initially,” Lashlee said. “At the end of the day, it won’t really show until we play somebody.”