Several questions abound as the Auburn Tigers begin their quest to become the first team to repeat as SEC Champions since 1998. Leading up to the first day of fall practice on Friday, Saturday Down South will examine the 10 burning questions the Tigers face in their quest to win back-to-back SEC Championships.

Auburn’s burning questions:

It is hours before Auburn opens fall camp and the status of both Nick Marshall and Jonathon Mincy is still uncertain. In all likelihood Marshall’s availability is in question for the season-opener against Arkansas. Mincy’s status might be questionable beyond the first game.

Mincy’s arrest and Marshall’s citation puts head coach Gus Malzahn in much more of a precarious situation than the absence of both players puts on the team.

Jeremy Johnson is more than capable of running Auburn’s offense whether it is for a quarter, a half or the entire game against Arkansas. Malzahn on multiple occasions called the sophomore signal-caller a NFL quarterback, most recently last week. No, he doesn’t have the rushing ability that Marshall has, but it’s not like he can’t run at all. His strength, though, is his arm. Johnson is a precise, pocket passer. His 17-of-21, 201 yard, 4 touchdown performance against Western Carolina last season showed what Johnson is capable of.

If there is a positive to take out of the situation, it is that Johnson has almost an entire month to prepare for one game. It is kind of like preparing for a bowl game. Whether Malzahn has already told Johnson how much he’ll play against Arkansas or not, Johnson should practice all month long as if he is the starter. Having nearly 30 days to prepare for the Razorbacks also gives the coaching staff plenty of time to adjust the playbook. The beauty of Malzahn’s zone-read offense is that it can be adjusted around the strength of the players. In 2010, Malzhan revolved the offense solely around Cam Newton, the clear No.1 offensive threat on the roster. Last year, both Tre Mason and Marshall shared the offensive spot. Mason rushed for 1835 yards while Marshall posted 1225 yards on the ground in a season-long display of phenomenal running. For a quarter, half or the entire game against Arkansas, the offensive play-calling with be designed around Johnson’s passing ability.

Mincy, a three-year starter at cornerback for Auburn, made his presence felt last year in the season-opener against Washington State. Mincy had a season-high eight tackles and nearly an interception. If he is not on the field for this year’s season-opener, his boundary corner position could be filled by Josh Holsey, a junior who missed half of last year with a ACL tear. He’ll be a vital cog in the Tigers secondary the entire season. In Mincy’s absence, senior Jermaine Whitehead will be looked upon as the leader of the secondary, having also been a starter the last three years. Again, with the ample amount of time that the Tigers have to prepare, defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson will be able to find the best personnel combination in the secondary.

Auburn’s depth in the secondary and at quarterback makes the situation manageable for Malzahn. Telling two seniors they have to sit their last season-opener, a home game no less, is tough for a head coach. But Mincy and Marshall have to face the consequences of their actions.