AUBURN, Ala. — The Auburn Tigers begin their “new day” with some of the same old issues.
Those include question marks at quarterback and receiver and a defensive front that must show it’s ready to stand up to the bullying Southeastern Conference. There are reasons for renewed optimism, too.
First-year coach Gus Malzahn has trumpeted the “it’s a new day” theme since his hiring to run a program he helped win a national championship two years before last season’s 3-9 freefall. Fans, who nearly filled Jordan-Hare Stadium for the spring game, and players appear to have bought in.
“Coach Malzahn stresses ‘a new day’ and that’s what it feels like,” H-back Jay Prosch said. “A new coaching staff came in, brought a new attitude, a new vibe. Brought a fire back into us. Guys are working hard. We’re getting our edge back.”
Malzahn brought more than a catch phrase to Auburn.
He returns with the fast-paced offense that Cam Newton ran to perfection in the 2010 title season. Malzahn has had a different starting quarterback every year of his college career, so this is nothing new. The former Tigers offensive coordinator even has another junior college transfer quarterback — Nick Marshall — gearing up for a second chance in the SEC, a la Newton.
Malzahn said Monday that Marshall and freshman Jeremy Johnson have emerged as the front-runners over former starters Jonathan Wallace and Kiehl Frazier. Frazier switched to safety.
A bowl bid would be a big step for Auburn, which hasn’t missed the postseason in consecutive seasons since 1998-99.
“There’s a lot of question marks going into this year,” Malzahn said. “It’s really hard for me to predict anything other than the fact that we’ll learn a lot about our team during fall camp. We’ll learn a lot about our team early in the season.”