The Auburn Tigers' annual A-Day spring game will take place on Saturday, April 20 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Since winning the BCS title in 2010, Auburn's football program has regressed. It won just eight games in 2011 and then struggled to win just three games last year.
Gus Malzahn and his staff have their hands full getting this team prepared for the 2013 regular season, and the upcoming scrimmage will showcase many of the young players who will contribute to the team's success.
With uncertainty surrounding the team's offense and an entirely new scheme on defense, the Tigers could be looking at another rough season in the SEC. By no means is this a certainty, but Auburn has more questions than answers heading into the spring game.
Here's what you need to know about the A-Day spring game.
Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, AL
When: Saturday, April 20 at 2:00 p.m. ET
TV: Comcast Sports South and ESPN 3
Position Battle To Watch: Starting Quarterback
Auburn won't win many games this season unless one of the quarterbacks vying for the starting job comes through in a major way.
At this time, junior Kiehl Frazier and sophomore Jonathan Wallace are competing to see who will run new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee's no-huddle offense in 2013.
Lashlee has been tough on his quarterbacks this spring, pushing them hard to be quicker with their decisions from the pocket. After the team's scrimmage on April 6, per AL.com's Joel A. Erickson, Lashlee had this to say about their performance:
At quarterback, neither one of them are processing information fast enough. I'm seeing them go to the right place with the football or do the right thing, but it's maybe a step behind where we need to be. And you can't be late on things.
This is likely a case of the coach setting the bar high for his young players rather than a case of these two signal-callers struggling badly.
Frazier expressed optimism after a recent scrimmage (via the team's official website), and they both have the skill set to run Lashlee's no-huddle offense.
Though Lashlee doesn't expect to name a starter after the spring (h/t AL.com's Brandon Marcello), Saturday's A-Day spring game will be a chance for the fans to see what both players bring to the table.
Area In Need of Most Improvement: Scoring Defense
Auburn's offense will likely be a work in progress all year long, which puts pressure on the team's defense to perform better than it did in 2012.
The Tigers allowed 28.3 points per game last year, which was a huge reason the team went 3-9.
New defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson has recently put together a few top-15 defenses during his tenure with South Carolina. He runs a 4-2-5 scheme that features a "Star"—a linebacker/safety hybrid that is capable of attacking the backfield and making big plays in coverage.
Sophomore Chris Frost and senior Jake Holland are dueling for the right to be the team's "Mike" linebacker, while Justin Garrett has emerged as the go-to guy to claim Johnson's "Star."
Part of the issue for Auburn's defense last year was that the team's offense couldn't score points for them, averaging just 18.7 per game.
That said, this defense must step up and improve upon its horrible 2012 campaign.
What To Expect in 2013
This upcoming season could be bittersweet for Auburn fans.
Malzahn and his staff seem to have this squad headed in the right direction, and it's safe to say the Tigers will win more than three games this season.
That said, Auburn's schedule in 2013 features a handful of brutal tests intermixed with a bunch of winnable contests.
With home games against Georgia and Alabama and road games against LSU, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Tennessee, it will be tough for Auburn to win more than seven or eight games.
This is a program in transition, though, and an eight-win season would be considered a wild success after last year's debacle.
The future looks bright for the Tigers, but there will likely be some bumps in the road in Malzahn's first season as the team's head coach.
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