Auburn Tigers Spring Practice Preview: 3 Storylines To Watch

    Auburn Tigers spring practice preview for 2017. Here are three storylines to watch when the Tigers hit the field on February 28.

    February 28, 2017

    Auburn Tigers spring practice preview for 2017. Here are three storylines to watch when the Tigers hit the field on February 28.

    Three straight losses to both Alabama and Georgia; unfulfilled preseason expectations; a multitude of coaching changes.

    You can say that the last three years for head coach Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers have been trying, including this past season that saw the Tigers come out of the gates slow, catch their rhythm midseason, and then lose it again to close out an 8-5 campaign.

    Now, the future looks bright on The Plains, and it has to do with more than the arrival of JUCO transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham. The defense should be stout again, and a young group of receivers are ready to take the leap to stardom. Oh, and the SEC’s leading rusher in Kam Pettway returns.

    What positions will be fought over? Who can take the next step toward a starting job? Here are some storylines to watch out for as Auburn starts spring practice.

    Auburn Tigers Spring Practice Storylines

    1. Stidham’s Arrival

    As soon as former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham committed to Auburn in December, all the talk has surrounded how he’s the perfect quarterback for a Gus Malzahn offense. Well, Malzahn’s protégé Rhett Lashlee is now at UConn, and Chip Lindsey has been hired to run his own offense. Spoiler alert: Stidham will most likely thrive in it as well.

    Stidham enrolled early and is the expected starter for Auburn despite the return of Sean White, who will not be ready for the start of spring practice. Even if White was ready, it is Stidham’s job to lose, and how he gels in Lindsey’s new system along with the young wide receivers will go a long way in how effective the Tigers’ offense can be. If he lives up to the billing, Auburn becomes a SEC and national title contender.

    2. Next Step

    Speaking of the offense, it is time for the wide receivers in the 2016 signing class to break out and start making their names known. Kyle Davis, Nate Craig-Myers and Eli Stove all saw action during their rookie campaigns, so the learning is over and the experience from playing will make them even better this season. Marquis McClain, who redshirted in 2016, was impressive during bowl practices.

    All of them have the talent to become the go-to guy, but look for Stidham to work a lot with Davis and Craig-Myers, as they can be big-play threats. All four will be competing for starting positions, along with juniors Ryan Davis and Will Hastings and sophomore Darius Slayton. This could quickly become a strong spot for Auburn if they progress.

    3. Replacements On D-Line

    Stars Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams are gone, but that doesn’t leave the Tigers that shorthanded in the trenches. Dontavius Russell and Marlon Davidson look as if they will become the next studs that can plug the holes on the run and get after the quarterback.

    The big battle to watch will be at tackle, as a foursome of Derrick Brown, Andrew Williams, Antwuan Jackson and Jaunta’vius Johnson try to fill the void left by Adams. Brown is an excellent pass rusher on the edge, while Williams, who will be a junior, recorded 2.5 sacks last season.

    MORE: SEC Football Predictions, Storylines For 2017 Season


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