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Phillip's blog: A game in name only

Saturday’s A-Day game will be a chance for fans to watch a scrimmage of sorts. It will be a chance for them to get together, to tailgate, to relive the joyful memories of a national championship season.

Senior Editor Phillip Marshall

It will be an opportunity for some walk-on players, who work just as hard as their counterparts on scholarship, to put on the uniform and play in front of a large crowd.

What the A-Day game won’t do is tell you anything of significance about the 2011 Auburn football team.

In last spring’s A-Day game, Cam Newton was 3-for-8 passing for 80 yards and no touchdowns. Nick Fairley had one tackle. Nobody walked away thinking to themselves “I just saw the Heisman Trophy and Lombardi Award winners.”

In Pat Sullivan’s last A-Day game, eight months before he won the Heisman Trophy, he threw five interceptions.

If somebody looks great, somebody else is going to look not so great.

If Barrett Trotter or Clint Moseley has a big day throwing the ball, someone in the secondary is going to have to get beat a lot. If Mike Dyer or Onterio McCalebb has a big day running the ball (doubtful either will get enough carries to do that), the run defense isn’t going to look good.

Because Auburn has so many young players, you’ll probably see more key players on the field for longer than you do in most A-Day games. But what you’ll have is an offense that knows everything the defense does and a defense that knows everything the offense does. You’ll have a football team near the end of a physical spring. Legs will be tired.

Coaches will hope to learn the same kinds of things they learn from other scrimmages. They won’t be looking for perfection, which is a good thing. Perfection won’t come to this party.

A-Day games were more fun when the teams were divided evenly and actually played a game. In 1983, writers coached one team and TV guys coached the other. We got cheated by the officials and lost.

Those days pretty much ended as limitations were increased on the number of practices and number of scrimmages allowed by the NCAA. Since the A-Day game counts as one of 15 allowed practices and one of one of three allowed full scrimmages, coaches want it to be a practice and not a show.

It’ll be a fun day in Auburn. But good or bad, it won’t be a snapshot of what to expect next September.

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