All it takes is a little football in the spring to ramp up Auburn athletics into full gear and moving with its foot on the gas pedal.
For those who have been paying attention to the blog in the last week, football news has come fast and furious, but it’s been hard to do a whole lot of analysis so far with Auburn football opening a couple of spring practices and Auburn’s baseball team making a push to be the early surprise of SEC play.
But that’s what The Week in Review was meant to start. Get ready for a few rapid-fire thoughts and observations from everything Auburn athletics to recap one heck of a busy week on the plains.
The Week in Review: Auburn
- Ever since Auburn offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler took over the lead as the architect of the Tigers’ point-scoring attack, the big question has centered around what type of scheme he’s going to install in Auburn. Loeffler, unsurprisingly, has been tight-lipped so far, but there have been a few bread crumbs dropped along the way. First, the transfer of fullback Jay Prosch, who I wrote about for Monday’s edition of the Ledger-Enquirer, the revelation that Loeffler wants to get the tight ends more involved in the offense and then Clint Moseley’s characterization of the offense as a pro-style attack. Right now, the best guess here is that Loeffler’s pro-style offense is still a hybrid — he did say that Auburn will be going out of the shotgun 40 percent of the time — that incorporates elements from several different offenses. Most schemes these days are.
- Of the three quarterbacks battling for the starting job, Moseley is more of a pocket passer than Kiehl Frazier or Zeke Pike. Normally, when a pro-style attack comes to mind, the pocket passer is the first image that comes to mind, but a quick examination of a few other college pro-style offenses reveals that a traditional passer may not be exactly what Loeffler’s looking for at all. Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson, Kansas State’s Collin Klein and even Stanford star Andrew Luck have all fit the mold of a mobile quarterback in a pro-style attack.
- Not real surprising to hear that new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder is interested in the different ways he can use Jermaine Whitehead in the defense. Whitehead really came on as Auburn’s nickel cornerback late in the season, and the trend in defenses is to use the nickel back as a versatile weapon. At the collegiate level, LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu is probably the prototype, a playmaker who can force turnovers in both the running game and the passing game.
- Enough about football for the moment — Auburn puts pads on in the morning, check back on the blog Monday morning — the Tigers have turned in a couple of impressive weeks on the baseball diamond. Auburn took two of three from LSU this weekend, highlighted by a couple of close wins in the late innings. If the Tigers aren’t ranked after taking two straight series from ranked teams, the blog will be a little surprised.
- Best story on the baseball team right now? With apologies to freshman lefty starter Daniel Koger and a locked-in Ryan Tella at the plate, designated hitter/closer Justin Bryant has to have one of the most interesting roles in the nation. Inserted as Auburn’s DH at the start of SEC play, Bryant is hitting over .300, and he’s got three saves already this season as Auburn’s go-to pitcher in tight spots. Hands down, Bryant has to be one of the most versatile players in the country.
- Auburn’s men finished sixth at the NCAA Championships over the weekend in Washington, a slightly disappointing result after the Tigers’ dominance of the SEC Championships in recent years. On the other hand, it’s hard to see the Tigers being in any danger of losing their streak of 16 straight SEC titles. Auburn’s two most productive swimmers from the NCAAs, Zane Grothe and Marcelo Chierighini, are both sophomores.
- Auburn softball got the season started off quickly, but the No. 21 Tigers have been in trouble since they entered SEC play. Against a Kentucky team that had struggled to get going this season, Auburn dropped the first two — making it five straight losses — before eeking out a 2-1 win on Sunday. Hard to imagine the Tigers getting back on track right now.
- Ranked No. 15 in the country, Auburn’s gymnastics team finished seventh at the SEC Championships in Duluth, Ga., but Tigers coach Jeff Graba was named the SEC Coach of the Year, and senior Laura Lane earned her second straight Scholar Athlete of the Year award. “I like that fact that this great recognition comes from a group of people that I have great respect for,” Auburn head coach Jeff Graba said. “These are the top coaches in the country.”