J.J. Pegues

J.J. Peques (89) Auburn practice on Monday, April 12, 2021 in Auburn, Ala. Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

Over the years Auburn football coaches have used a variety of formats for A-Day games. The new head coach, Bryan Harsin, has also used different formats for spring games with his teams at Boise State. He says that he is still trying to figure out what will work best on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Whether it is two teams playing in a traditional style contest, an offense vs. defense alternate type of scoring system or something else, my expectation is that the Tigers will keep things rather basic when going on public display. 

The coach says the plan will be to show some “good vs. good,” which should mean the first team offense going against the first team defense. That is something fans who show up at the stadium will want to see.

The Tigers only get 15 spring practice days and the final one is scheduled as a session for corrections after A-Day. 

I asked Harsin what would make him a happy head coach after watching the spring game and he said in his role he can’t be happy after an intrasquad game. 

If the offense does well, he isn’t pleased with the defense and if the defense out-plays the offense, he is concerned about that, too.

Harsin did say that smooth execution on special teams could make him smile. 

This is an area the Tigers have a chance to be rock solid this fall with Anders Carlson back after making 20-22 field goals in 2020 and two experienced punters, Aidan Marshall and Oscar Chapman, competing for a starting role.

Spring is normally a time for experiments, including position moves. The big one this year is moving J.J. Pegues from tight end to defensive tackle.

The former high school quarterback opened the spring as jumbo-sized tight end/H-back with lots of natural athletic ability, but carrying around 300 pounds last fall he didn’t show enough speed to separate himself from defenders even though he did a lot of good things on Saturdays. With an ACL injury to tackle Jeremiah Wright in the first spring scrimmage, the Tigers needed another option on the defensive front and this has the potential to be a very good move for Harsin’s team.

This is the big week of the season for Auburn’s most successful team. Coach Greg Williams and the equestrian Tigers are in Waco, Tex., looking to extend their 42-match winning streak and bring home their seventh national championship.

The Tigers won the national title in 2019 and were favored to repeat in 2020, but the event was cancelled due to the pandemic. 

The equestrian team is the only Auburn squad to win an SEC championship in 2020-21 and is the only one that has a legitimate chance at winning a national title.

Like the equestrian squad, the baseball Tigers entered the season with high expectations, but they have struggled against quality competition. 

Auburn is off to a 1-11 start in SEC play, which is a big surprise considering the proven pitchers the team featured along with other players who helped the Tigers reach the College World Series in 2019.

However, injuries to the front-line pitchers and the inability of others to step up on the mound has been an issue. 

The performance of the catchers leaves a lot to be desired as does clutch hitting with runners in scoring position. 

All of that, along with the SEC being very strong in baseball, explains the disappointing record for the guys at Plainsman Park.

 

 

Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter.

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