The Tigers started spring practice this week in Auburn with several question marks looking ahead to a big 2019 season full of opportunity to prove the doubters wrong.

Auburn will be playing in one of theĀ biggest marquee opening seasonĀ games against Oregon in Arlington’s AT&T Stadium. When you factor in that the Ducks feature a quarterback in Justin Herbert, a prospect that many are eying as the first player at his position that will be selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, the task of returning home to Auburn with a win gets that much more formidable for the Tigers.

On the plus side, scheduling a game of that caliber can keep players more focused and locked in all offseason and Gus Malzahn is about to find out if that’s what he’s getting out of his latest Auburn team as they hit the practice field this week for the first time in 2019.

During his first press conference of the spring, the Auburn coach hit on several of the big question marks regarding his team, including the offensive line, his linebackers and who will play H-back with Chandler Cox off to the NFL.

Malzahn on his offensive line:

“They played really good football in the second part of the season, they started to come together and gelling together — the big thing is to continue that. We want to leave spring with more experience working together and getting those young guys ready. We are always trying to develop more depth, too.”

Malzahn on his linebacker corp:

“I think that’s a big key this spring with that group. You look at two or three years ago, it feels exactly the same. And of course, with those three guys it worked out really well. So we feel the same way and I know Travis (Williams) is really excited about his bunch and showing what they can do. We’ve got some guys that can play; they just need the experience of getting out there, especially with that first group.”

Malzahn on the H-back position:

“We’re going to do our best this spring to keep 11 guys on the field without changing a whole bunch of personnel. That’s a position that is in a little transition, but I think it’s a good thing moving forward. Now I will say this, with Chandler Cox, he’s a tough guy to replace — he was a four-year starter and like a coach on the field. He made things right when things weren’t right sometimes so that’s big shoes to fill. We’ll be doing it by a committee as far as spring goes, but that will be a good position battle, too.”

During the first practice of the spring, Malzahn even displayed a rare show of emotion. Think he’s fired up for some spring football?