Schedule: Practice starts Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET. The first day in full pads is Monday, August 9.
What’s new: Auburn was the only team in the SEC that didn’t have any turnover on its coaching staff. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a few changes. The Tigers plan to play Daren Bates some at outside linebacker after he led all SEC freshmen in tackles last season at safety. This will be his first look in his new spot. He was recovering from shoulder surgery and didn’t go through spring practice.
Sidelined: Offensive line signee Shon Coleman is battling leukemia and won’t be playing this season. Only one other player from the Tigers’ top-5 signing class didn’t make it to campus. Receiver Jeremy Richardson failed to qualify academically and will attend junior college.
Key battle: Junior college newcomers Brandon Mosley and Roszell Gaydon will resume their battle for the right tackle spot. Mosley had forged slightly ahead exiting the spring in what was a close race for the final starting spot on the Tigers’ offensive line.
New on the scene: True freshman running back Michael Dyer and true freshman receiver Trovon Reed shouldn’t have to wait long to get their hands on the ball. On defense, true freshman linebackers Jake Holland and LeDarius Owens provide depth at a position that was painfully thin a year ago. True freshman Jeffrey Whitaker is also a strong candidate to play early at defensive tackle.
Breaking out: Senior Mario Fannin is a player who has bounced around between different positions and been the consummate team guy. This is his time to step up and be the guy. Running backs coach Curtis Luper has already predicted that Fannin will be a 1,000-yard rusher as long as he stays healthy.
Don’t forget about: Aairon Savage is one of three senior safeties returning from injury, joining Zac Etheridge and Mike McNeil. Savage was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after missing all of last season with an Achilles injury and the entire 2008 season with a knee injury.
All eyes on: Junior quarterback Cameron Newton. He won the starting job in the spring and gives the Tigers an added dimension with his ability to both run and pass. The 6-6, 250-pound Newton also gets a second chance to show what he can do after having his career cut short at Florida following off-the-field trouble.
Quoting: “Last year, we started 5-0 and finished 3-5, and that’s not going to get us anywhere. We lost key games. Coach (Gene) Chizik has talked about it in the offseason, that finishing those games is how you move from good to great.” -- Auburn linebacker Josh Bynes