Auburn Football: What to Watch for in Saturday's "A Day" Game

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Auburn Football: What to Watch for in Saturday's
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Auburn Head Coach Gene Chizik

If you watched the 2010 Auburn A Day Game, here is what you would have expected from the 2010 version of the Auburn Tigers:

  • Not a very good running team; the blue team had 27 net yards rushing and the white team had 23 net yards rushing.
  • A deliberate style of offense, the teams ran an average of 43.5 plays in the game.
  • Essentially a penalty-free team as the blue team had only one penalty and the white team had two.
  • The running back with the most rushing yards was Mario Fannin with 20 yards followed by Davis Hooper with 17 yards.
  • Cam Who? Cam Newton was 3-for-8 for 80 yards, 0 touchdowns and 0 rushing yards.
  • Nick Who? Nick Fairley had only one tackle.
  • The leading tacklers for the Blue squad were Ashton Richardson, Anthony Morgan, Blake Poole, Woody Parramore and Wade Christopher.
  • The leading receiver was Jay Wisner with five catches.

All of the statistics for last years A Day game can be viewed here.

Get the picture. The coaches are not going to show much and their goal is to provide some entertainment and not get anyone hurt. The clock will run continuously through the second half, cutting down on the number of plays. With this year's limited roster, expect to see a lot of walk-ons and an extremely fast clock. In other words, don't jump to conclusions about next year's team based on statistics from the game.

So if you watch Auburn's A-Day game, what do you look for to give you an indication of what kind of team the Tigers will have next year?

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Auburn Fans celebrate BCS National Championship

Look for leadership, chemistry and fundamentals!

While the Tigers have to replace as many as 35 players and plenty of starters from last year's BCS National Championship team, there are plenty of young, talented 4-star and 5-star recruits waiting in the wings but leadership, team chemistry and fundamentals will determine how far this team goes.

The 2010 National Champion Tigers did not lack for leadership. Cam Newton, Kodi Burns, Darvin Adams, Lee Ziemba, Ryan Pugh, Josh Bynes, Nick Fairley and Zac Etheridge were not only outstanding players but also outstanding leaders. Look for the leaders that step up this year.

Reports are saying that Onterrio McCalleb has stepped it up as a leader and coaches are looking for Emory Blake, Brandon Moseley, Neiko Thorpe, and Jake Holland to take over leadership of this team.  Don't just look at their statistics, but look at how Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley run the offense and react to mistakes.

Watch the chemistry of the team. Watch the players on the sidelines to see if they are engaged and encouraging their teammates or are just spectators on the sideline. Pat Dye always said that that was one tangible about each team that was unique every year and difficult to judge until the season started.

The 2010 Tigers had great chemistry that made them great. Fans could sense it and you could hear it in the players' voices during and after the season. It seems to be a common thread as they talk about keys to last year's undefeated season.

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Wes Byrum reacts to kicking the game winner against Oregon

Watch the fundamentals. Reports from scrimmages is that there have been issues with the crucial center to quarterback exchange as the Tigers have a true freshman center in early enrollee Reese Dismukes and walk-on Blake Burgess. Is the tackling better than it was last year?  Are the players lining up correctly on defense and wrapping up? Are there a lot of off-sides and holding penalties on the offense?

So, as you watch the Auburn Tigers in their spring game, enjoy the game as it will be the first time the Tigers will be on the field since Wes Byrum kicked the game-winner against Oregon and do not get caught up in the statistics as it will not be any indication of what kind of team the Tigers will have next fall.

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