In front of a record crowd of more than 83,000, the Orange team defeated Blue 35-14 in Auburn's spring game Saturday afternoon. Fans gathered not only to see new head coach Gus Malzahn's system at work for the first time since his return from Arkansas State, but also to celebrate Toomer's Corner, which will be rolled one final time before the trees are removed next week.
The game itself was not particularly eventful, though there was one play that might be unprecedented in spring football games, and not in a good way -- defensive back Jonathon Mincy got himself ejected from the game for a "targeting" hit on Dimitri Reese. Malzahn, understandably, was not pleased about the play. Beginning with the 2013 season, illegal helmet-to-helmet hits will result in automatic ejections.
As is the case at so many schools this spring, the quarterback position at Auburn is not settled just yet. SB Nation's College and Magnolia wasn't impressed by the performances of junior Kiehl Frazier and sophomore Jonathan Wallace:
The first half started out as much as I expected with some quick series by both Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace but the snap to Wallace with him not paying attention which was scooped up by Justin Garrett for a touchdown, yeesh. Quarterback play by both of these guys is still pretty inconsistent comprising mostly of poorly thrown passes.
Still, there was plenty of offense in the contest. Unofficially, the teams ran 111 plays and piled up 548 total yards. Running back Cameron Artis-Payne, a junior college transfer, earned offensive MVP honors; he finished the day with 164 yards of offense and a touchdown on 20 touches.
Garrett was the standout on the defensive side thanks in large part to that fumble returned for a score, and Malzahn spoke highly of his efforts this spring after the game. Players like Artis-Payne and Garrett have done themselves some favors during spring practice, but as Malzahn made clear afterward, there is still much to be settled as the Tigers head into the fall.