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AU Football practice
Auburn football practice on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021 in Auburn, Ala. Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

Auburn A-Day: What to Watch For

With A-Day quickly approaching on Saturday, April 6, there is a lot to look for in the annual spring football game. Auburn fans have a lot to be excited about in Coach Hugh Freeze’s second season on the Plains, including returning stars, the emergence of a star freshman, and new coordinators.

Returning Tigers

The 2023 season was highlighted by streaky play and inconstant roles for key players, including quarterback Payton Thorne. After splitting time with Robby Ashford, Thorne is primed to step up as the starting quarterback of the Auburn Tigers.

Confidence and consistency are key for Thorne in 2024, and A-Day is the perfect start. He had a statistical drop-off last season, passing for 1,755 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. A full offseason of practices and workouts as the QB1 should set Thorne up for success in his final year of eligibility.

The Tigers are returning some key offensive weapons in tight end Rivaldo Fairweather and running back Jarquez Hunter. Fairweather earned Second Team All-SEC honors in 2023, and Hunter was Auburn’s leading rusher last season with 909 yards and seven touchdowns.

In the passing game, Fairweather gives Thorne a huge red-zone target who can win 50-50 balls consistently. Hunter rushed for 100 yards in all three SEC wins last season, so team success could rely on an efficient running attack.

On defense, sixth-year senior Eugene Asante will be back after the best season of his college football career. He led the team with 86 tackles, including five sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss. His experience and leadership will help improve a defense that finished in the bottom half of the SEC in total defense last season.

Cam Coleman 

After committing and signing with the Tigers in December 2023, Coleman enrolled early at Auburn to participate in spring workouts with the team. While most early enrollees play catch-up in size and skill, Coleman has been a regular with the first team in spring practice.

The 6-foot-3 wide receiver has been a standout through spring practices, and Coach Freeze believes Coleman will bring a new look to a Tigers offense that struggled mightily in 2023.

Coleman, only 17 years old, is widely considered a future first-round pick in the NFL draft. His size, explosive speed, and versatility make him a valuable asset for Derrick Nix’s high-flying offense.

Coleman’s unique combination of size and athleticism allows him to have an immediate impact on the 2024 Auburn Tigers. Expect to see a lot of Cam Coleman during A-Day and heading into summer camp.

New Coordinators

After just one season on the Plains, offensive coordinator Phillip Montgomery and defensive coordinator Ron Roberts were relieved of their coaching duties in January.

Auburn struggled tremendously on offense in 2023, especially in the passing game. Under Montgomery, the Tigers averaged just 162.5 passing yards per game, their lowest since 156.6 in 2012.

Coach Freeze replaced Montgomery with Derrick Nix. Nix has spent the last 16 seasons at Ole Miss, including five years as the running backs coach under Freeze. Nix is also the running back coach, taking over from Auburn legend Cadillac Williams, who is now coaching for the Las Vegas Raiders in the NFL.

On the defensive side of the ball in 2023, defensive coordinator Ron Roberts achieved nothing special. The Tigers were 45th in total defense and 41st in scoring defense, allowing 22.6 points per game. The rushing defense was abysmal, allowing 155 yards per game, good for 76th nationally. 

DJ Durkin and Charles Kelly replaced Roberts in January as Auburn's co-defensive coordinator. Under Durkin's leadership, the Aggies' defense improved to 3rd in the SEC in total defense.

A-Day will be the first time Auburn fans see the new coordinators call plays and use new schemes in full-speed game action. 

How to Watch

The A-Day spring football game will be broadcast live on SEC Network+ at 1 pm CT. General admission tickets are $10 and free for current Auburn students.