A variety of links and notes from yesterday's practice, heading into what Gus Malzahn has declared a pivotal scrimmage today:
The biggest leak in the dam? Auburn's 75-player depth chart (give or take a few Jay Wisners) has, of course, more holes than a cheese grater. But when you read the following, it's hard to think any position is worse off than wide receiver:
Receivers coach Trooper Taylor said if the season started today, he would feel comfortable with two receivers.Emphasis added because: Terrell Zachery. The same Terrell Zachery that caught ... wait for it ... two passes last season. His partner in the current starting lineup, Darvin Adams? He caught three.
Those two are currently Terrell Zachery and Darvin Adams. Montez Billings would be the other starter if he is not forced to sit out with a yet unspecified academic issue.
Zachery, Taylor said, has been the biggest standout of the group.
Taylor likes the progress DeAngelo "Voodoo" Benton and Emory Blake have made, but says they still have work to do and must learn how to practice at the collegiate level.
There's some legitimate hope here that Benton and Blake are secretly polished enough for SEC play and that Taylor is poor-mouthing them to keep their heads from doing too much swelling--a perfectly reasonable aim given that both are getting the "Benton/Blake is the next big thing" profile treatment from the state press--but even so ...
“Typically, in an this offense, I’d say maybe six guys would rotate through in a game of 80 plays,” Taylor said. “That’s it. You can’t get timing with the quarterback. How can I expect the quarterback to throw a slant on time if he’s doing it to three different guys? I don’t care what the steps are, no kid is the same.So, if Billings doesn't make it back, while Zachery and Adams are solid and Blake and Benton are too talented to keep on the bench, the other two guys in the rotation will be ... well, Taylor did mention at least one other guy by name: walk-on Jay Wisner from Bozeman, Montana. You know that old saying about how for every true freshman you start, you lose a game? I have to wonder that if for every time your wide receiver coach mentions a freshman walk-on from Montana as one of the standouts from fall camp, you lose two. Quindarius Carr and Derek Winter, I believe that thing that just landed at your feet was a gauntlet of some kind.
“Once we find out who is going to play, the rest of the guys, their window is done unless somebody gets injured. That’s the way it is.
More required reading on the WR situation comes from Andy Bitter, who has notes on just about everyone, and if you want to hear Taylor discuss the situation firsthand there's video here. And hey, do read the Benton/Blake pieces linked above.
Tell us something we didn't know. Evan Woodbery catches up to Jeff Grimes:
We talked to offensive line coach Jeff Grimes for the first time today. He said his first unit was coming along fine. As for his backups?Grimes did say he expects the starters to be a "really solid first unit," but if anyone out there was holding out hope an offensive line injury--to any starter--wouldn't be a well-nigh devastating blow ... it's just about time to put that hope away, especially with Bart Eddins joining the laundry list of players battling nagging injuries.
"There's not anybody at this point that I'm ready to single out and say that they are really this close to being ready to play," he said.
On the bright side, hearing that Grimes is happy with the starters is better than the alternative.
The JCCW will go dark again later this week as I'm shifted from blogger to safety. Your turn, D'Antoine Hood:
Sophomore D’Antoine Hood, a Phenix City native who went to Central High, is working at safety right now. The Tigers are low in numbers there with Mike McNeil (leg) and T’Sharvan Bell (knee) sidelined ... Tommy Thigpen said. “Hood’s got game experience. Him being a corner and playing under the lights, we had to ask, who’s the next best guy? He’s done it and he’s been in the stadiums before.”Oh heavens. And at corner?
Hood’s move leaves Auburn with four scholarship cornerbacks: starters Walt McFadden and Neiko Thorpe, Harry Adams and junior college transfer Demond Washington. Freshman walk-on Rodney Cofield is the only other player currently working at cornerback. "That's where we're at," cornerbacks coach Phillip Lolley said. "We've got to get it done."So ... assuming Washington's the third corner, Auburn's one injury away from having a guy who's never played a meaningful down and spent the spring at wide receiver as our nickelback. Yay. (This is the part where I thank Taikwon Paige for repaying Ted Roof's faith in him by screwing up his academics at Georgia Military College. Thanks, Taikwon!)
For Auburn to leave cornerback in such a sorry state tells me McNeil just isn't recovering as quickly as they'd like. An injury to either Etheridge or Slade (who I'm assuming has the inside track on the other starting job) puts us in Defcon 1 in the secondary.
Yes please. Man, that's an awful lot of hand-wringing up there. So I'll note for the second time in as many days that Chizik making the punt team "his baby" is excellent news--Auburn's not the sort of team that's going to be able to afford giving up any yardage in that phase of the game. Any. Andh ey, you know what happens when the head coach takes special teams seriously? The players take special teams seriously.
Also good news: McCalebb continues to draw praise from the defense and five Auburn players graduated this summer: Rudy Odom, Gabe McKenzie, Jerraud Powers, Jonathan Vickers, and Chris Todd.
More on the biggest Auburn story of the fall--the