Auburn entered spring practices with two new coordinators and more questions than answers.
After only one week, some of these questions appear to be coming to an end, while others still linger on.
It was Clint Moseley's bad luck to have a sore rotator cuff limit him in practice and keep him out of the initial scrimmage. Even if he could have overcame the huge hurdle of competing with the potential of Kiehl Frazier, the chances have been significantly reduced at this point.
Frazier has taken to the instruction of Scot Loeffler and is making exceptional progress toward being able to apply all of that potential to the football field. For those who have wondered, Frazier passes the ball better than he runs it. He also has some enticing targets for his passes, and they appear to be making exceptional progress as well.
Frazier appears to be grasping the opportunity available to him and seems intent on making the Auburn quarterback position his own. He is picking up the new offense and becoming confident behind center.
The offensive line was the Tigers' one big disaster when facing elite SEC competition in 2011. They simply were either unwilling or unable to physically compete with elite SEC defensive lines.
Practice this spring has been physically brutal for this group so far. A lot of work has been focused on competing with the best defenses in the nation on a physical level. While results are premature at this point, it appears progress is being made in this area.
It is likely this unit will come out of the spring battered and bruised, but they'll know which starters have what it takes to compete on an elite level in the SEC.
This position has moved forward from 2011. For those worried that Auburn will lack a premier running back, they now must change focus to which premier running back will earn the majority of touches this fall.
Mike Blakely and Corey Grant have proved more competitive than was thought so far. This leaves Auburn with a very deep backfield moving toward A-Day this year.
This unit has been battered and beaten in the competition with the offensive line. Huge progress has been made in the sheer physicality of the unit over last season. However, three starters are out of practice with injuries.
What has been impressive so far is that the overall unit has been able to keep a high level of physicality in their performance with players deeper on the depth chart this season. It appears that the new defensive approach of being more aggressive and less gap-oriented has unleashed more potential from the depth chart.
Analysis and Opinion
Spring practice has started out very upbeat at Auburn. So far injuries have not been of the sort that they're expected to keep players out of competition this fall. Every member of the team appears to be digesting a good dose of SEC physicality in what amounts to a trial-by-fire approach by the staff this spring.
The battle in the trenches is absolutely furious and this should lead to a physically dominant team this fall. Indications so far lead to Auburn being very strong on both lines. Those familiar with the program appear cautiously optimistic that the offensive line should be a huge advantage this season. At this point, only injuries more severe than the ones already absorbed should keep the defensive line from being the backbone of this squad.
The offense and defense are still in installation mode, though. Players appear to be absorbing the new systems with little difficulty. In some ways, these new approaches appear to be unleashing the players to an extent.
The new offense will be explosive, and this was the result in the first scrimmage. Vast improvement in the simplicity of the blocking schemes has led to more proficient lead and downfield blocking.
Frazier has commented on the multiplicity of the new offensive scheme. He already appears to feel more comfortable in the new system than he did the old one. Elements of the West Coast, Spread and Pistol offenses can be seen in the scrimmage video released by Auburn.
If Auburn fans are wondering what the defensive scheme will look like this season, a good place to start would be replays of the Atlanta Falcons last season. Auburn will field a prototypical NFL-style defense that is very aggressive in nature up front.
This appears to be a team working toward the very achievable goal of competing for, and attempting to win, their second SEC championship in three seasons.