For both players and coaches, spring training 2021 is probably one of the more important ones for any Auburn football team in recent years.
With the players not having spring drills a year ago due to the collegiate sports shutdown, that hindered the development of numerous Tigers who needed individual attention from their position coaches, which is something there is plenty of time for in the spring practice.
With a new coaching staff running the show, except for Carnell Williams who is back to work with the running backs, head man Bryan Harsin and his assistants have a very full plate this spring.
Among the major assignments are installing new offensive and defensive systems.
The coaches also need to come out of spring training with a good idea of which players fit best at each position.
Last, but not least, the coaching staff needs to continue to work on building the type of winning culture that was emphasized during the winter workouts. Harsin says he has seen progress on that front, which is a positive thing for the Tigers, but makes a good point by adding there is a large amount of work that needs to be done this spring.
From the notebook
• Justin Powell surprising Auburn’s basketball coaches with his plans to transfer was certainly disappointing to Bruce Pearl and his staff, but the 2021-22 roster should be fine without Powell.
The Tigers have a higher-rated guard prospect, Trey Alexander, on the way to fill Powell’s spot and there are boatloads of talented guards in the transfer portal who might be eager to join what should be a strong AU team.
• With junior distance runner Joyce Kimeli leading the way the AU women’s track team finished 10th at the indoor nationals. She won the 5,000 meters and took third place in the 3,000 to score 16 points, the most for an Auburn athlete at the indoor nationals since Olympian Kerron Stewart scored 20 points in 2007. The Tigers open their outdoor season with the Tiger Invitational on Friday and Saturday at the Hutsell-Rosen Track and Field.
• The AU softball Tigers showed they are not ready for top-level competition as they dropped all three home games to fourth-ranked Alabama on the opening weekend of SEC competition.
There is some room for improvement with the pitching, but the No. 1 area that needs attention before the Tigers resume league play on March 26th at Missouri is Auburn’s lack of punch at the plate.
• Coach Butch Thompson’s baseball team is expected to face one of its biggest tests of the season when it opens conference play on the road this Friday against Ole Miss, a team that the league’s coaches have predicted to win the SEC West.
The Rebels, who have been ranked as high as No. 1 nationally this season, feature one of the best pitching staffs the Tigers will see.
All three of the pitchers Auburn was expecting to be the SEC weekend starters have been dealing with injuries early in the season, which makes the trip to Oxford an even more challenging one for Thompson’s Tigers.
Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter.