Not much has changed for Auburn this offseason. The coaching staff remained intact, but key replacements to Tre Mason, Greg Robinson and Dee Ford will be primary keys to success in 2014.
Here’s what to watch for Saturday in Auburn’s A-Day Game:
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The coaching staff has talked about Nick Marshall’s leadership and improvement this spring, and furthermore, NFL talk has surrounded Marshall and the quarterback position. A dynamic athlete, Marshall’s game could take a major boost this season with a spring practice in the same system and another year under Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee. Marshall is the first returning starter Malzahn’s had during his college coaching career. Think about that. We know how explosive Marshall can be in the running game; I will be watching his development within the pocket and his accuracy to his receivers. He’s not likely to play much, but if big steps have been taken, it will be easier to see. Mr. Marshall is one to watch Saturday and in 2014.
Auburn has two new weapons that will be fun to watch Saturday. JUCO transfers D’haquille Williams and safety Derrick Moncrief will be on display. Both players will play primary and crucial roles this season, especially after the Tigers lost two secondary starters, and with another receiving threat opposite Sammie Coates, look out. This offense is only going to get more explosive, and Williams is a playmaker. It will be fun to finally see both players in uniform Saturday.
The new guy
Redshirt freshman running back Peyton Barber has turned heads this spring. Just one player won’t replace Tre Mason. Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant will get their touches, but Barber could be the every-down back come fall. He’s 5-11, 225 pounds and will remind you of Michael Dyer with his build. Coaches have raved about Barber, saying he has an ‘unparalleled work ethic’. In addition to the trio mentioned above, Auburn will welcome freshman Roc Thomas this fall. Four legit running backs, and only one can get the most carries. Who will it be? It could be Peyton Barber.
I will be paying particular attention to Auburn’s young defensive linemen. Rising sophomores Carl Lawson (questionable for spring game), Montravious Adams and Elijah Daniel are crucial to the Tigers’ defense and taking that next step. One of the biggest reasons I love Auburn in 2014 isn’t the offense; it’s the defense, and Lawson, Adams and Daniel are monster reasons why. Each can be elite in their own respect, and Lawson showed flashes he’s a bona fide monster and terror to offensive linemen.
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