With the annual spring football game right around the corner, the Tigers' spring practices have been ramping up in recent weeks.
Auburn went 5-7 last season under former head coach Bryan Harsin, which led the university to switch to a new face of the program in Hugh Freeze. The transition has run smoothly for Freeze so far, as he has brought in a top-20 recruiting class along with multiple transfers.
Now it’s time to see how this group has banded together the past few weeks and what progress they’ve made a few weeks away from the spring game.
Under a new coaching staff, players are already seeing differences between the old coaching staff and this one.
“I'd definitely say it’s faster,” said defensive back D.J. James. “Freeze got the whole practice moving. We’re moving fast. It’s going to be a little different this year, I feel like.”
James made a big decision over Christmas break by deciding to come back for one more season, bolstering the defensive backs group for new defensive coordinator Ron Roberts.
“Auburn, Auburn man, Auburn’s a family,” James said. “They treated me like family since I’ve gotten recruited here. I just trust Auburn.”
A group that was criticized for most of the year was the offensive line group, which has had its own changes in the way they run things. They now must adapt to a new offense under Freeze, one that operates at a much faster pace and is more spread out.
Offensive guard Jeremiah Wright was plugged into a struggling offensive line middle of last season and is now figuring out a new system under Freeze.
“It’s something new for me,” Wright said. “It’s like I step up into a starting role, and I’m trying to compete. You’ve got younger guys. They’re trying to come in and compete too, so it’s something new.”
When asked about the offense, he was not shy about talking about how excited he was for it.
“I think it will be more explosive,” Wright said. “Pass and run. We did a lot of running last year. So, this year I think it will be evened out.
Tight end Luke Deal shared the same sentiment as his teammate about the new system.
“I like the idea of having defenses tired,” Deal said. “Rolling up tempo. Keeping defenses on their toes. That’s what you’ve got to do in this league, and I think we’ll do a good job of it.”
There are a lot of questions about this new look Auburn team that are looking to be answered. Some of those questions may be answered when Auburn returns to Jordan-Hare Stadium on April 8 for the A-Day game. The annual spring game is scheduled to begin a 1 p.m. CST.
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William Halliday started with The Plainsman in fall 2022. He is a journalism major from Memphis, Tennessee.