Monday, April 19, 2010

The Banality of A-Day

Here's what's good about A-Day, or any other spring game: The weather is usually nice, and during the interminable off-season lull, fans to go on campus and see a somewhat-reasonable facsimile of football. And that's about it.

Every spring game is, by design, something of a bore. Coaches hate to show anything to anybody when they don't have to, and the tendency to turn spring games into demonstrations of distilled vanilla has only intensified since cable programmers with way too much air time to fill started televising them. So what you got in Auburn on Saturday was the same thing you got from every other big-program spring game: something that sort of looked like football, but really wasn't.

I know, I know, the message boards are alive today with speculation over whether Cameron Newton is a flop, whether Auburn should play it safe with Neal Caudle, or hand it over to Barrett Trotter, or just hang it all up and forfeit the season out of sheer ennui. Opposing fans, also with nothing better to do, are all a-twitter--literally so these days--as well, which all by itself is kind of funny. About the only thing more boring and pathetic than watching your own team's spring game is watching somebody else's.

To all of the above, I say: Get a grip, folks. It's just A-Day.

With one single exception*, no spring game has ever told anybody a meaningful thing about their football team. If you want to have a much better idea about the team, I suggest you sneak into the final, closed scrimmage this week (but don't tell the security guards I said it was okay)**. That's where the real offense and defense will be on display--very limited display--and where the serious decisions about the initial starting lineups will be made. The A-Day films have probably already been flushed down the digital memory hole as far as the Auburn staff are concerned.

Given the coach-mandated limitations and constant shuffling of the lineups on both sides of the ball, I hesitate to draw any specific conclusions out of the "game" that was "played" on Saturday. That's not to say that some individuals didn't impress. One thing you can't hide is speed, and Auburn should have plenty of that when the real thing starts in September. On defense, I liked the hustle from Nick Fairley and Antoine Carter and whoa-Nellie, Demond Washington. On offense the running back stable looks solid even before the freshmen arrive, and whoever the quarterback is in 2010, he should be able to look forward to having more than two productive wideouts; DeAngelo Benton and Quindarius Carr both stuck out.

As for quarterback, all four of them (apologies to Clint Mosely for not mentioning him above) looked good passing the ball. I really liked the dart Newton threw to Darvin Adams on his first possession, and the long bombs from Trotter to Terrell Zackery and Caudle to Carr, respectively, were the offensive highlights of the "game." But with the two-hand touch rule on the quarterbacks and no serious effort made to play at Malzahn Ludicrous Speed, anybody trying to eke out any serious conclusions from the A-Day offense (or defense, for that matter) is kidding themselves.

So, that's A-Day. Kind of fun, kind of dull, kind of like football. For the next four-and-a-half months, it'll have to do.

* Auburn message board readers are by now thoroughly sick and tired of me telling this story, but for the rest of you, there was exactly one meaningful play in the entire history of A-Day "games," and it happened in 1994.

In the '94 spring game, redshirt freshman Dameyune Craig led the second-team White squad against the first-team Blues. Immediately after taking his very first snap in an Auburn uniform, Craig had the ball swatted out of his hands by a defensive lineman (I've forgotten which one). The ball bounced off the turf, Craig grabbed it out of the air, and proceeded to run for his life towards the far sideline. Just inches away from going out of bounds, he pivoted on one foot and rifled the ball 40 yards down the field to hit an open receiver on the other sideline. The pass traveled 60 yards in the air, and I about lost my mind jumping up and down and screaming.

Craig's next pass went for a touchdown, and a legend was born.

** The last closed scrimmage was actually held last week. So never mind.


Cason said...

Will-I agree with your assessment and I also remember DC doing that. He is, in my opinion, the greatest QB to ever lace them up for us. And yes, I'm older than you and I am including Sully!
BTW-now addicted to Tito's-best vodka on the planet!

AubTigerman said...

I agree about the "vanilla" Spring games. I go because its always good to be back on the Plains.
In addition,who knows,we just might witness another Damayune Craig moment. I know that might be like expecting to win the lottery, but I'm just saying.

I'm looking forward to the Sept. 4th game when we'll see the vanilla extract version of the Tigers.Can't wait.
War Eagle

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

God never shuts one door but he opens another. ....................................................