Now that fall practice is finally underway, what will we learn about the Auburn Tigers?
In the past few seasons, there has been a lack of discipline on both sides of the ball. With the new staff, this should stop immediately. The hard-nosed Gene Chizik isn't afraid to get in a player's face, and for this team to succeed immediately, that's what it will take.
The Plainsmen have some talent on both sides of the ball, but the depth issue is a huge concern.
At linebacker, one injury and that entire position could begin to sink. With a mix of some returning players and several impact recruits, a healthy linebacking corps will be key to anchoring a defense accustomed to the top of the NCAA defensive ranks.
All of the quarterbacks received plenty of reps on day one, and though everyone has their take on the starter race, I wouldn't be surprised to see Gus Malzahn go against the grain and surprise everyone. His offense is as complex as they come, and the starter will no doubt be the quarterback who knows and operates his system best.
Another unproven spot is at wide receiver, where not one player stood out last season. Despite Auburn's woeful offensive numbers, you couldn't expect much more when the quarterbacks had no one to throw to. Auburn has always been a north and south running team, but with this offense, there will be a mix of both.
DeAngelo Benton, a former prized signee of LSU who, in my opinion, was Auburn's biggest 2009 recruit, will make an immediate impact. Other freshman receivers such as Emory Blake and Philip Lutzenkirchen should expect to have a lot thrown their way immediately.
Though Chizik is hesitant to talk about newcomers and how they will contribute, he knows this season could all depend on how they perform.
The tools are there, the staff is there, and so is the excitement of a new season. As Auburn football gets underway for 2009, we should begin to get a good idea of how this year will shape up. If the Tigers can find a signal caller and a few playmakers, fans could see this program turn around much sooner than expected.
Auburn fans and SEC fans alike, let me know what you think.