Aug. 11, 2013
The following conversations, or something like them, are real. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.
Optimist: "Did you hear about the defense in today's scrimmage? They intercepted three passes and recovered a fumble. Looks like we're going to be a ball-hawking bunch this season."
Pessimist: "We're turning the ball over too much. We're not any good on offense."
Optimist: "How about the long touchdown pass our quarterback threw in the scrimmage today? He threw a frozen rope 50 yards in the air. He looks like he has a chance to be something special."
Pessimist: "Our secondary stinks. Why can't we cover anybody and why don't we get any pressure on the quarterback?"
Optimist: "I think we have the best running backs in the country. You should have seen the moves they put on some defensive players today."
Pessimist: "Why in the world can't we tackle?"
Scrimmages matter. They matter a lot. They go a long way toward deciding who plays and who doesn't. But the truth is, unless you are on the coaching staff, you can watch every snap and still not know what is going on. It's a scrimmage, a practice. Nobody wins or loses. Coaches have different aims on different days and different plays.
And it's obvious that a great play on one side of the ball is bad for the other side of the ball.
In Auburn's scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday, it seems the offense got the best of things. Good for the offense. But it's certainly worth noting that numerous defensive starters either played a handful of snaps or didn't play at all.
Head coach Gus Malzahn said offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee wanted to put each of the four candidates to be the starting quarterback in specific situations. How did they respond to those situations? Since we don't know the situations, we don't know.
What we do know is that it was a scrimmage on a hot day for players who were practicing for the ninth time in nine days. Projecting what happens in those scrimmages to what could or would happen in a game, good or bad, isn't going to get anyone very far.
No matter what happens over the next three weeks, we won't get our first real indication of where this team is headed until Washington State comes to town on Aug. 31. Even then, a victory won't mean happy days are here again and a loss won't mean all is lost.
Like most teams with first-year head coaches, this Auburn team is and will be a work in progress. How good can these Tigers get? How far can they go?
We're a long way from knowing that.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: