Auburn opens spring practice Tuesday with numerous key players returning from a team that was one win away from making the four-team College Football Playoff field.
Auburn’s biggest questions entering spring practice revolve around the offensive line, which will have four new starters and a new position coach (J.B. Grimes), and the secondary. The Tigers lost starting defensive backs Carlton Davis, Tray Matthews and Stephen Roberts, and need some younger guys to earn playing time this spring.
Lastly, Auburn cannot seem to have an offseason where there aren’t a multitude of questions about the running back rotation. That’s the case again.
The good: The wide receivers. With all of Auburn’s top pass catchers returning in 2018, the receiver group will be as deep as any in the country. Wide receivers coach Kodi Burns has plenty of options, with Ryan Davis, Darius Slayton and Nate Craig-Myers representing the big three.
The bad: The line. Many expected the group to be elite last season, but it seems to be unanimous that the line underperformed. Now, four starters are gone. Coaches have taken their time figuring out the best starting five in each of the past two seasons, but fans are expecting that to be decided a bit earlier this year. Having an idea of the best five coming out of spring ball would be a plus.
The newcomer to watch: OT Calvin Ashley. Ashley was a big-time get in the 2017 recruiting class, but did not see the field last season. As a redshirt freshman, Ashley remains relatively raw, but he has a clear shot to be in Auburn’s starting five. How will he perform this spring?
The veteran on the spot: WR Eli Stove. With a loaded receiving corps, Stove’s role may be in question. Stove was used more a running threat than a pass catcher last season. Auburn coaches seem fond of Noah Igbinoghene’s talent and ability, and with so many receivers in 2018, Stove’s inability to make a difference in the passing game may lead to him sliding down the depth chart. He has something to prove this spring.
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