The Auburn Tigers won 10 games and advanced to the SEC Championship a season ago, but those results weren't good enough when compared to the success of fellow SEC teams Alabama and Georgia.
Saturday marks one of the biggest steps of the offseason for the Tigers, as their spring game takes place at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Much of the focus entering the regular season is going to be on quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who could enter the Heisman Trophy race, but his participation Saturday is going to be limited due to recovery from shoulder surgery.
Head coach Gus Malzahn should use Saturday as the next step in evaluating who is going to contribute in 2018 against a difficult slate of opponents, starting with Washington in Week 1.
Auburn Spring Game Information
Date: Saturday, April 7
Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Stidham Set to Make Brief Appearance
The big news coming out of Auburn Thursday was the organization of the spring game in order to suit Stidham's recovery.
The 21-year-old, who is working his way back from offseason surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, opens the festivities with 7-on-7 drills in order to showcase his abilities to the fans before the traditional scrimmage takes place.
Malzahn and his coaching staff are relying on Stidham to take a step up from his performance a year ago in which he threw for 3,158 yards and 18 touchdowns.
In addition to putting up high numbers, the head coach sees the Baylor transfer as more of a leader on the gridiron for the 2018 season, per Jeff Shearer of AuburnTigers.com.
"His command when he's out there just feels different, which it should. He's a veteran guy. He's like a coach on the field now. Last year, he was still learning the offense, and learning [offensive coordinator] Chip [Lindsey] and Chip was learning him. It just feels different. He's got a very good grip on our offense and what we need to accomplish this summer too."
Stidham's past production makes him one of the preseason favorites for the Heisman Trophy, per OddsShark on Twitter:
Although we won't see much of Stidham until training camp, it appears he is on track for a full recovery, which means Malik Willis and Joey Gatewood should only earn significant time under center during Saturday's spring game.
Barrett Looking to Impress at New Position
Running back Devan Barrett is going to be one of Stidham's many weapons in the fall, but he might not be a threat out of the backfield.
Barrett is going to spend time at wide receiver Saturday after two players at that position suffered torn ACLs.
With heated competition at running back, Barrett could separate himself from the congestion and become an asset out wide.
Malzahn wasn't ready to fully commit to the position change Thursday, when he called the switch temporary, per Tom Green of AL.com:
"I'm not ready to say that (Barrett's future is at receiver) yet. This is just kind of a temporary thing for the last week and a half, and of course A-Day and all that, but he's a guy that we're looking to take that next step. He showed he could protect the football last year as a freshman and did a good job on the perimeter."
What Malzahn isn't afraid to talk about is the unique skill set Barrett brings to the field, as the head coach noted his ability on the perimeter, per SEC Country's Justin Ferguson:
Whether or not he makes the permanent switch to receiver, Barrett has an opportunity to show off his versatility Saturday. And even if he stays at running back, he might be able to earn more snaps in passing situations.
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Statistics obtained from ESPN.com