Auburn Football: Offseason Leadership Should Bring Success in 2012

Kevin McGradySenior Writer IJuly 15, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Challenger, a Bald Eagle circles the stadium during the national anthem for the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game between the Oregon Ducks and Auburn Tigers at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

This is the time of year when fans are simply starving for any information on their teams. Practices are currently voluntary and must be led by players without the leadership of the coaching staff.

This is also the time of the year when players begin to show the results of offseason workouts and seven-on-seven sessions. It is a time when a team can show the leadership necessary to continue to improve without guidance.

There really is no voluntary practice for a college football player. Those that miss these summer workouts will usually fall behind and fail to find the field this fall.

The intensity and discipline demonstrated in these summer workouts is usually indicative of a team’s execution in the fall. For successful teams, the offensive and defensive playbook will be learned and executed to a high level of proficiency during this time.

Fall practice begins in early August, and the staff has less than 30 days to get the team ready for the opening game. There simply is not enough time to teach a player the playbook and then get in the repetition necessary for that player to become competent.

This is why offseason workouts are absolutely crucial for any team. For the 2012 Auburn Tigers, this is an even more crucial time.

Auburn plays Clemson on September 1, 2012. This is a team that will take the field with a totally new look. The offensive and defensive verbiage has changed. The offensive and defensive playbooks have changed. The offensive and defensive coordinators have changed.

This has made these summer workouts absolutely crucial for Auburn this season. In truth, the season results largely rest on the productivity of these player-led summer workouts.

Kiehl Frazier has emerged as one of the strong team leaders during the offseason. Teammates have praised his leadership as a team captain and his improvement as a quarterback.

For most teams, it would be enough to simply absorb the new playbooks during this period. These Auburn players have started to work on the minute details that sometimes make the difference between success and failure.

Captains are taking a detailed look at the individual player’s performance and pointing out the mistakes that must be corrected before the first game. These players are working toward a goal this fall with intensity only teams with strong, experienced leadership can achieve.

When the staff joins this team for practice in early August, they will find a team that has worked toward a common goal this offseason. The players are stronger, in better shape and know what is expected of them to a much higher degree than was the case for spring training.

For 2012, Auburn is a team that has 30 upperclassmen competing in a conference where the number of upperclassmen has been a direct recipe for success. LSU won the SEC in 2011 with 32 upperclassmen on the roster.

No team has won the SEC in recent years without a good concentration of upperclassmen on the roster.

LSU will have a maximum of 24 upperclassmen on the roster for 2012. Alabama could have as many as 34 upperclassmen on the roster. Arkansas has 34 upperclassmen listed on the 2012 roster. Georgia has 30 upperclassmen listed on the 2012 roster.

No team has won the SEC with less than 30 upperclassmen on the roster and continued on to the BCS championship. The likely reason upperclassmen percentage is such a crucial number is their leadership during this critical time of the season when workouts are led by players.

Freshmen and sophomores can perform on a team, but they seldom provide the level of leadership juniors and seniors are capable of. These players know the drill from years of practice.

For Auburn, it seems the team leaders are stepping up in a very big way in preparation for the 2012 season.