April 10, 2014
AUBURN, Ala. - With spring practice headed toward its final week, some things have become clear about the Auburn football team that will open defense of its Southeastern Conference championship on Aug. 30 against Arkansas.
Some thoughts and impressions:
* Quarterback Nick Marshall was a better leader and passer last season than he was credited with being, but he's been better at both this spring.
* Six offensive linemen are talented enough, good enough and prepared enough to start in the SEC. Which five will start is a decision that won't be made until sometime in August.
* Junior college wide receiver D'haquille Williams is as talented as advertised and even more of a leader and competitor than anyone expected him to be.
* A year ago, Auburn worried about having enough wide receivers to run their offense. Today, they have the deepest and most talented group in recent history. That's a credit to recruiting, but more of a credit to position coach Dameyune Craig and the willingness of his players to buy what he's selling.
* Coaches will soft-pedal it for as long as they can, but redshirt freshman running back Peyton Barber has turned lots of heads. It will be hard to keep him off the field.
* Of the players Auburn lost after last season, fullback Jay Prosch might be the hardest to replace.
* Sophomore Jeremy Johnson is the most talented backup quarterback Auburn has had since Brandon Cox was No. 2 behind senior Jason Campbell in 2004.
* Injuries have plagued the defensive front since even before the start of spring, which means there will be still be questions to answer going toward preseason practice. But with five seniors, there should be plenty of good answers.
* Junior linebackers Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzy have the talent to be the best duo at Auburn in some time.
I wonder how many people - even including some who are supposed experts - realize that the NCAA does not make any money from college football. The NCAA runs almost entirely on proceeds from the Division I basketball tournament. ...
The suggestion that the NFL and NBA should form minor league systems for those who don't want to go to college is interesting. There is certainly a need for it, but enough of a need? I don't know how many players, given the option, would choose to play for a minor league team as opposed to experiencing the atmosphere of big-time college football.
I don't believe such minor leagues would damage college football much at all. Basketball might take a bigger hit. ...
Auburn's baseball team desperately needs to win at least two games at Alabama this weekend. With two wins, the Tigers would make the turn at the halfway point at 7-8. One win, they would be 6-9. No wins, they would be 5-10.
With a second-half schedule that includes South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Kentucky and LSU, coming back from 6-9 or 5-10 would be extremely difficult.
Until next time ...
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: