Fall Camp and the last scrimmages have wrapped up on the Plains, giving way to the beginning of game preparation for the season opener against Arkansas State on September 4th. Each August, many questions are answered about the upcoming season. Tomorrow, I'll take a look at the questions that remain unanswered. But today, here's a look at a few things that have been discovered over the last few weeks.
Which freshmen will contribute this season?
The most impressive part of Fall Camp to me was how the incoming freshmen jumped right in and competed. Michael Dyer, LaDarious Phillips, Trovon Reed, Antonio Goodwin, and Shaun Kitchens have been impressive and should find their way on the field on offense.
On defense, many freshmen will provide depth. Corey Lemonier, Craig Sanders, Jeff Whitaker, and Kenneth Carter all may find playing time on the defensive line. Jake Holland and Jessel Curry have the edge to help support the linebackers. Jonathan Mincy has the potential to break through in the secondary or on special teams.
Is Cam Newton ready to lead the Auburn offense?
Cam Newton has been impressive during the offseason. He's said all the right things, taken the right attitude, and won over his teammates and coaches. He seems to be ready to provide the kind of quiet confidence and leadership that Jason Campbell brought to the table.
Everyone in the program says he has basically lived in the athletics complex—asking questions, watching film, doing whatever he can to get an edge. Obviously, he will have his tough moments in his first year starting in the SEC. But the sky is the limit for a quarterback with his work ethic and physical tools.
What will Daren Bates' role be?
Daren Bates seems to have settled in nicely at outside linebacker. He looks to be the third starter, beside Josh Bynes and Craig Stevens. The reason for the move from safety lies in the versatility Bates can provide.
When an offense comes out in a three-WR set, Bates can easily move out and become a nickel back, providing help against the pass that a normal linebacker can not bring. He gives Ted Roof some flexibility in play-calling and scheming against the more difficult offenses in the conference.
Can the coaching staff keep up the positive momentum around the program?
A near upset of Alabama, a bowl victory, and a top five recruiting class won Auburn fans over to this coaching staff last year. The challenge this offseason was to keep that momentum, and the coaches have done just that.
The new players brought a breath of fresh air, energy, and talent to the team. The coaches have been able to turn up the intensity this year, with every single coach returning. The players understand what's expected of them and the coaches understand how to reach the players. Fans can't help but feel that things are moving in the right direction.