Name: A-Day Spring Game
Time:
2 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network Plus
Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium (Auburn, Ala.)
Format: Intrasquad offense vs. defense

5. Check in on the WRs behind Duke Williams

Remember Jonathan Wallace, a former quarterback who started Auburn’s final four games during the 2012 season? He has since transitioned to wideout where he’s hoping to break into the mix this fall following the departures of Sammie Coates and Quan Bray. He’s one of several Tigers now catching passes instead of dropping back with the ball in their hands. JUCO transfer Jason Smith signed with Auburn as a quarterback but wanted to play, so wide receiver it was. Williams, a first-team All-American candidate, is the obvious leader of a group, but multi-year contributor Ricardo Louis, the lanky Melvin Ray and junior Marcus Davis will all get their crack at impressing wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig on Saturday afternoon.

4. Establish a presence up front

This works for both sides of the ball, but especially offense where the Tigers lost three starters but will benefit from the return of Alex Kozan, an all-league blocker who missed all of last season. Replacing four-year starter and all-everything center Reese Dismukes is Auburn’s primary question. Austin Golson and Xavier Dampeer will likely split center duties during the spring game and could separate from one another depending on consistency. Defensively, Auburn must sustain a pass rush to win the SEC after failing to do last season. Coaches want to see more from Montravius Adams as a dominant defensive tackle along with the promising Dontavius Russell. Carl Lawson remains limited, but is expected to put on quite a show off the edge when he forms a tandem with incoming five-star Byron Cowart this fall.

3. Open the playbook for Jeremy Johnson

We all want to see what Johnson can do in this setting, a player who played extremely well as a backup quarterback over the last two seasons. Johnson provides Auburn with an additional dimension as a serious threat through the air and if he’s telling the story, is one of the team’s faster players. Opposing defenses expecting the offense to lose a step in the run game without Nick Marshall, think again. Keeping Johnson upright and relatively untouched on Saturday is important and it wouldn’t hurt for Rhett Lashlee to cater to the junior’s strengths and try a few things with special packages offensively. I’m sure there’s a few ‘money plays’ Will Muschamp’s defense hasn’t seen.

2. Have the three-headed backfield fueled and ready to go

Did you expect anything different from this program’s annual stable of ballcarriers? Auburn reloads again with three backs capable of leading the SEC West in rushing, but as usual, one will eventually move ahead of the others for the lion’s share of reps. Jovon Robinson looks the part, a player who forces the issue as a tank-sized athlete packing a punch. Roc Thomas and Peyton Barber are doing their part too in a position battle made up of interchangeable parts.

1. Turn Will Muschamp loose on defense

Ready to see Muschamp’s 100 percent creative control over Auburn’s revamped defense, one that promises to be more skilled in rushing the passer and a better tackling unit overall? This unit’s poise and production will be the determining factor in what separates the Tigers from a meandering Top 25 squad to a College Football Playoff contender. We know the offense will be fine under Malzahn’s direction, but what about the other side of the ball? Coach Boom has a plan in Year 1 and the talent is there — similar to Lane Kiffin’s success as a rookie on Nick Saban’s staff last fall. This weekend, we’ll see a hungry defense, especially at the back end where returning corner Jonathan Jones is the lone veteran amidst potential ballhawks. Keep an eye on Tim Irvin at nickel. He’s going to be a first-year stud under Muschamp’s tutelage.