Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quickie personnel update

Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back ...

Chizik's stop in Columbus provided a few worthwhile tidbits. Starting with ...

Gabe McKenzie: good signs. It's not quite as definite as I'd like--Chizik does not point-blank say that McKenzie will be on the field this fall--but that McKenzie will be working out with the team this summer as opposed to being the non-person he was during the spring is progress. Your quote of importance:
"Gabe's going to be working out with us," he said. "There are some health issues and things, but I really feel like we're on the right track in getting Gabe back to where he was."
Now, I have to be honest: I don't buy that this is only a health/injury of some sort. Before McKenzie's problem was "medical things" ... now it's "health issues and things"? If that was the case, why was he basically nowhere to be seen during spring? I'm guessing these "and things" are things of a disciplinary nature rather than physical ... but then again, Chizik is of the Bill Belichick "name, rank, and serial number" school of divulging injury information, so I could be way, way off on that one. Still, the spring disappearing act sure looks like some form of penance to me.

Not, of course, that it really matters if McKenzie does indeed make it back to onto the fall roster.

Billings: no change. That Billings's status is unclear won't be a surprise to anyone who's been reading the JCCW or Luke Brietzke's blog over the past week or so, but maybe this quote makes things ever-so-slightly clearer?
“I always try to take things on a positive slant,” Chizik said. “I’m certainly optimistic about it. We just have to work through a couple of kinks here and there. With all things working I think we have a good shot of getting that done.”
I wish I could read that last sentence optimistically, but when I hear a coach tell me that if everything is "working" he "thinks" that Billings will have a "good shot" at getting back, I think that adds up to Ain't likely to happen. Hope I'm wrong.

On schedule. It's not news--I meant to make note of it a couple of days ago-- but in case you missed it, DeAngelo Benton, Nick Fairley, and Philip Lutzenkirchen are enrolled and on campus as planned. So much for that talk the first two weren't ever going to make it to the Plains in the first place, huh?

Guess this'll go here. Yesterday, ESPN's Chris Low listed five "out-of-nowhere" players who "came out of nowhere this spring to become major factors heading into the fall." I think "major factor" might be a stretch for Justin Albert, but still, it's nice to have this write-up of him at No. 5:
He came to Auburn as a walk-on after blowing out his knee during his senior year of high school and spent last season on the scout team. Scholarship or no scholarship, Albert was one of those guys this spring that his teammates kept talking about in glowing terms. He's hungry, talented and willing to do whatever he can to contribute. He showed a knack for making the big plays in scrimmages and should fit in nicely to Gus Malzahn's new spread offense.
I'll say this: if Albert winds up being a factor at the most crowded position on the entire roster, he'll make Spencer "Great Story" Pybus's story look like a biography of the Rockefeller children. (OK, that's an exaggeration, but you get the point.)


J.D. said...

Shame about Montez. I won a Heisman with him in like my third season of a dynasty on NCAA 08, because his speed rating got up to 99 and I could return every punt and kick for a touchdown. Naturally, I expected this to happen in real life. Sigh.

Joshua said...

I ripped into Low a few weeks back about his back-handed comments about Auburn. It seemed that every thing he wrote was so negative towards Chizik and the new staff. I simply inquired as to his reasons for "jabbing" AU at every opportunity, when his hometown Vols and their staff are the laughing stock of college football. He replied by saying that he really isn't against Auburn, and that he was going to give Chizik a fair chance, and was actually rooting for him to succeed at Auburn. Now, I am likely just patting myself on my back, but since my email his stories concerning AU have been much more complimentary. He has even mentioned AU coaches/players for no reason at all, i.e. the story on Justin Albert. So, maybe we'll have one national journalist giving AU its due...hopefully! Take care,

§teve From Columbia said...

The bottom line is that Todd was our only viable QB last season. Once he was done, we were done. That is sad, because I don't consider Todd a great QB. He is just smart enough to be a starter and not make too many dumb mistakes. My guess is that Malzahn is hoping one of the new guys will be more promising after the bust that has been Kodi Burns.

Jerry Hinnen said...

J.D., how come it never happens that way. Always disappointing.

Josh, occasionally I think Low lets the "news cycle" immediacy color his stuff a little bit, but for the most part I think he's OK. Still, if you did have a hand in getting the good press, good work.

Steve, I'll just say that you and I see last season and Burns's future very differently. If Burns fails to win the job this year, yeah, then it'll be time to call him a bust. Considering the massive obstacles he's had to deal with over the past few seasons, I'm not there yet.

§teve From Columbia said...

It is possible that Malzahn will coach Burns up, but he hasn't shown the ability to run the offense and make consistently good decisions. Yes, he likely has more athletic ability than any of our QBs. Yea, he likely had a much stronger arm than Todd from the start of the season. The only reason Todd was the better choice is his decision making ability. Randy Campbell comes to mind. While Todd is probably a better passer than Randy, I do think both were starters because of decision making rather than athletic ability.