The long wait is finally over.
The Auburn football team hits the practice fields for the first time Saturday morning for the beginning of fall drills. Head coach Tommy Tuberville has set up a brutal schedule that includes 22 practices over the next 18 days without a break.
"We need to have a sense of urgency, a lot more than we did last year," said Tuberville.
This year's preseason practice will be highlighted by several important position battles including quarterback. Auburn is also looking for two to three true freshmen to step in and provide depth in the secondary.
Tuberville said the team is also still adjusting to both of his new coordinators, Paul Rhoads on defense and Tony Franklin on offense.
"Rhoads has a lot of enthusiasm and knows his defense," said Tuberville. "We won't make a lot of changes. I'm gonna let him use his imagination in terms of what he thinks will help this football team with the talent that we have.
"We still live on speed, putting as many people out there that can run as possible."
Franklin's high-tempo spread offense is a big change from the two-back, power-running game Tuberville's teams have featured for most of his previous nine seasons.
"You know, if we wanted to consistently say, okay, we're gonna stay with winning eight, nine games, sometimes maybe win 10, I think we could have stayed with the two back offense," said Tuberville. "I was looking for a way to help this football team score a few more points on the average, help the defense.
"We are still going to run it. We're still going to be physical."
Sophomore Kodi Burns begins spring as the starting quarterback but will have to hold off junior college transfer Chris Todd during two-a-days. Todd, who is fully recovered from a shoulder injury, and Burns battled to a draw in the spring.
Other key position battles include weakside linebacker, defensive tackle, cornerback, wide receiver, running back and offensive guard.
Auburn is adding eight freshmen defensive backs this fall but one, T'Sharvan Bell, is still recovering from a broken foot and will miss preseason practice. D'Antoine Hood, Harry Adams, Neiko Thorpe and Drew Cole will all compete for a spot in the playing rotation at cornerback.
At safety, freshmen Christian Thompson, Marcus Jemison and DeRon Furr, who moved from quarterback after spring, will all have an opportunity to earn playing time this fall.
Saturday's practice is scheduled for a 9:30 a.m. CT start on the intramural field and is open to the public. Fan Day will follow from 3-5 p.m. at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.
We hope you enjoyed this free update from AuburnSports.com. Stay tuned later today as we roll out the first of our fall practice coverage. Over the next 18 days, AuburnSports.com subscribers will have access to practice stories, our exclusive Two-a-day Insider, video and photo galleries from all 22 practices.
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