Yesterday was scrimmage day. Developments:
--The post-scrimmage theme was pretty much the same everywhere you looked: the offense go things done yesterday. No turnovers, touchdowns on three of their five first-team drives, not even a single incompletion if you believe Mario Fannin. (I'm not sure you should, but still.) Scrimmage or not a scrimmage, practice or not a practice, depleted D or no depleted D, going against a first-team defense with as much talent as Auburn has and humming along in the fashion Auburn's offense (allegedly) did is something to build on. It's not time to start expecting the Spread Eagle 2.0 to hang half a hundred on La. Tech, not by a long shot, but as long as it keeps improving it'll be fine--and it couldn't be much clearer that after the first scrimmage's QBpalooza and resulting turnovers, three-and-outs, etc., that progress is being made.
Of course, there's always a chicken-and-egg question that has to be asked after one of these scrimmages: should we really be happy that the offense looked like world-beaters when they looked that way at the expense of, you know, our first-team defense?
To be honest, I'm not sure. Obviously, with Jonathan Evans starting at weakside linebacker and Roof admitting that they were shuttling second-teamers in and out, the defensive unit that saw the field yesterday won't be the one that shows up on Sept. 5. But they were also facing an offense that just named a starting quarterback two days earlier, that just doesn't have the same caliber of established SEC players, and was generally supposed to be the problem area.
Since no one really knows what the defense looked like, I think it's just as premature to worry about them as it is to proclaim that the offense has arrived. But if they don't find a way to hit back at the O the next time the two sides square off, it might be fair to get a little uneasy ... especially if the depth issues continue to worsen.
--In that same vein, it's terrific that Chizik felt impressed enough to single out Demond Washington and Darn Bates. Healthy, competent players in the secondary appear to be at such a premium for Auburn, it's a huge coup that both those guys look capable of playing this soon. (Not that it's a shock in Washington's case.)
But still--with Josh Bynes, Antonio Coleman, Zac Etheridge, Neiko Thorpe, etc. out there, is it a good sign that the players that come in for praise are a true freshman and a new JUCO player? I realize it's mostly a matter of expectations and the press asking for new names to pass along, but when Walt McFadden admits that "the defense is still going to have to do a lot of work," I can't help but think some of the defensive vets might not yet be up to full speed yet.
--It doesn't get much more direct than this, does it?
Kodi Burns, who lost the race to be the starting quarterback, played receiver and had a couple of nice plays out of the Wildcat position, said the coaches. He had a long run for a touchdown.So there you go. I'll be stunned if Burns doesn't start the season as the numero uno Wildcat "QB."
"You'll see that guy on the field a lot," Malzahn said.
Also worth noting that after multiple offseasons of whispers about Burns's work ethic, Taylor says he's putting in extra practice time at receiver to balance out the time he's spending with the quarterbacks.
To paraphrase arguably the greatest film comedy of all time, how much more impressive could Kodi have been over the past few days? The answer is none. None more impressive.
--Saturn V Durst has his scholly. All is right with the world.
--I think the growing consensus that Caudle will only be the backup for the first couple of games of the season, if then, is probably accurate. Malzahn just sounds too pleased with Rollison's progress (to me, anyway) to think otherwise.
--To hear Chizik talk, Dee Ford still has a little ways to go before being ready for game action.
--The part of me that still wonders if Mario Fannin is the team's best tailback was a touch disappointed to read that Fannin took snaps exclusively at H-back in the scrimmage. But most of me is just happy that this offensive staff has a position for him and seems to know what they want from him. And hey, we've got photo evidence that he was touching the ball during the scrimmage. No worries.
--Seriously, how much of a godsend has Daren Bates been? Auburn gets down to the point of lining up waterboys at safety, and right in that hour of greatest need the two-star, no-hype, barely-qualified recruiting afterthought rides in to start knocking heads and having Chizik himself admit he'll have a shot at immediate playing time. Say wha? He even seems like kind of an interesting quote.
The best news, of course, is that the world might not end if Zac Etheridge picks up a nick or Mike Slade or Drew Cole can't hack it. But it's also a good sign that so far, the new staff seems to be showing as much of a propensity for finding recruiting sleepers (Bates, Eguae, Washington) as the previous one.