NCAAF Preview: Can New Auburn Players Provide Early Impact?
The more information I get, the more things seem to be shaping up for a very good football season on the plains. While no one can predict how good the season will end, it has become apparent that 2009 was on the lower end of what Auburn fans can expect.
The most impressive part of this offseason has been the tremendous work that individual players are putting in to get ready for the 2010 season. Physical conditioning has become a serous task, oriented toward reaching a goal. If you ask any player what that goal is, they will answer an SEC Championship.
The 2010 freshman class is showing up ready and motivated to work. There had been reports of recruits that had worked extra hard in the offseason to be able to make an impact in their first year. This work has made a huge difference and many of these young players will certainly impact the 2010 season.
The attitude on the team is upbeat and focused on achieving goals. The freshmen are buying into the program and immediately making every effort to learn what they can before Fall practice starts. The film room is a very popular place these days.
While some of this has gone on in the past, the sheer volume of such things adds up. This 2010 Auburn team might or might not meet their goals. If they do not meet their goals, they are making sure it is not due to lack of offseason preparation.
Joel Bonomolo is scheduled to report June 20. He says that he feels 100 percent and ready to make a quick impact. Here is a recent interview he gave. I expect Auburn fans will find it worthwhile reading.
He will be the last of the JUCO transfers to report. He is expected to make an impact and challenge for a starting position in fall practice. He will be one of the players to watch this year for Auburn.
With the players focused and working toward their goal, it is time to take a look at some of the works of the team as a whole. Through the winter and spring the Auburn team has been analyzed offensively, defensively, and on special teams. Now it is time to look at some impact on the entire team.
In 2009, the Auburn team was not very effective at kickoff coverage. In fact, it was a fairly common occurrence to spot the other team on their 40-yard line. This certainly did not help the Auburn defense in 2009.
There are several impact factors that will help with this in 2010. The first factor is the banning of wedge blocking by the NCAA. This will allow coverage players more access to the ball carrier. It will also reduce kickoff returns for a touchdown.
The second factor is the arrival of a very talented freshman class with an abundance of speed. Some of these players will help with kickoff coverage. This will improve the over all results.
The third and possibly the largest factor is Cody Parkey. He is the freshman kicker this year and he has the leg to force touchbacks on a consistent basis. Auburn fans can see him in action here. This could well be the single biggest improvement in special teams in 2010. How is that for impact potential?
Punt coverage was less than stellar for Auburn in 2009 as well. The key to punt coverage is distance and hang time. The punter is one of the most important players in a field position struggle.
Steven Clark is an incredible punter for distance and hang time. Utilizing him for some of the punting duties in 2010 should allow for better coverage on punts in 2010. Auburn fans can see him in action here.
Another huge problem in 2009 was simply finding someone that could catch punts. Demond Washington settled in pretty well as a kickoff returner later in the season. Every time a team punted the ball to Auburn in 2009 fans held their breath hoping to avoid disaster.
Chris Davis , Trovon Reed , Antonio Goodwin , and Ryan Smith all have the potential to return kickoffs and punts. They all have great speed and acceleration. If one of them can become a sure handed fielder of the football he would likely see early playing time.
The Auburn team had worked on fielding kicks and punts in spring practice and the results were better. If one of these freshmen can step up and become the return man it would certainly make a big impact in 2010.
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