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Spring Football Five Questions: Auburn

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Walt Austin of College and Magnolia gives us the scoop on spring practice out on the plains.

1. What was the vibe in Auburn this spring, following a fairly disappointing regular season?

I don't know that there was a discernible vibe other than just uncertainty. There's optimism for the defense, and still so many questions about the offense. Through most of Gus Malzahn's tenure, it has been the opposite. Everyone expected the offense to be good, but the defense to struggle. Now we actually have a good bit of depth (and talented depth) everywhere but the linebacker position. Even with the uncertainty and questions, I think there's still a lot of "wait and see" about the team in general. No one took control of the QB job in the spring, but I don't think anyone who was actually thinking about it thought that anyone would take control. John Franklin III wasn't going to grab control in 15 practices, and Gus Malzahn was always going to take the race into fall camp, anyway. It's more that everyone is waiting to see the reports once fall practice starts more than anything.

2. Any major surprises?

Marlon Davidson looking like he'll be in heavy playing rotation - maybe even more than last year's stud Byron Cowart - has been surprising. I don't think anyone expected that out of a brand new early enrollee. While there are questions about the linebacker slot, it looks like the young guys who are there have stepped up.

3. Any disappointments or cause for concern?

No one stepping up as a playmaker at wide receiver is disappointing and cause for concern. However, early enrollee Kyle Davis didn't participate fully in practice, and two of Auburn's other star recruits haven't shown up, yet. We expected some of the older guys to make a statement, though, and they really didn't.

4. Auburn appears to be an offense in need of some playmakers -- any new ones emerge this spring, or are you hoping to get them from the recruiting class this summer?

I think I somewhat answered this in the previous question. The exception would be the emergence of Chandler Cox and Kamryn Pettway, both sophomores who played fullback/H-back last season, at the running back slot. Both reeled off big runs in A-Day and looked good carrying the football. Sure, it was just the spring game, but they both ran hard and angry. Pettway in particular looks like he loves to take a hit and drive through tacklers.

5. How do you feel the expectations are shaping up for 2016? Could there be trouble for Gus Malzahn, or is he relatively safe?

I really don't know if there are expectations just yet. As I pointed out before, it really seems like there's a "wait and see" approach. When the freshmen receivers show up, when Kerryon Johnson is healthy, when we get more of a sample size with the QBs, then we'll start to get a real feel for what 2016 will look like. There is also very definitely trouble for Gus Malzahn. I don't think there should be - I think he should be given until 2017 - but I have it on very good authority that Gus really needs to win 8 games and beat one of either LSU, UGA, or Alabama to keep his job.