--The most surprising development from Tuesday's practice:
Auburn's first-team defensive front was Antonio Coleman, Jake Ricks, Mike Blanc and Nick Fairley. Antoine "Hot" Carter also subbed in.Attention Michael Goggans: if this is an accurate representation of the current starting front four, I'm afraid you've just been officially put on notice. A returning starter getting beaten out for his own job by a JUCO newcomer who's not even playing his natural position? Cut it, spin it, parse it however you want: it's a bad, bad sign. Rocker didn't seem happy with Goggans coming out of spring and it's a good guess he's not particularly enamored with him now.
--The Toro is back! Sort of. Kind of. OK, so not he's not necessarily "back," but I think it's safe to say he would be if the opener was this week instead of next week. As tricky as hamstrings can be and as indispensable as Freeman already is, I don't blame the staff for being 100 percent absolutely sure Freeman's ready to go before they let him loose.
--Why is Freeman indispensable? Wade Christopher, starting redshirt sophomore walk-on linebacker, that's why. Just to recap: Evans is hurt, Pybus still isn't even in pads, Herring apparently practiced for the first time this fall just yesterday, and it looks Gaston is still just banged-up enough to not make up for the whole "I'm a freshman" thing.
However quickly Freeman or anyone happens to return to full-speed, however, it's become clear that the linebacking depth chart is going to continue to be a major, major headache. Welcome to the two-deep, Mr. Christopher. Here's to hoping we enjoy your (extended) stay.
--As with Freeman, I suspect that despite his injury Byron Isom would still be in the starting lineup if the opener happened to be Saturday. But that John Sullen has held on to his spot as "first guy off the bench" over the last few practices suggests that he is, in fact, going to be the first guy off the bench. To which I can only say: Yikes. (I suppose I could also say "good for Sullen," and I should, since he was a late addition to '09 class that the Tubby regime didn't deem good enough to offer. All of that true. Still, I can't help it. Seriously: Yikes.)
--If Sullen's already in line for playing time, that means a few of the down-the-depth-chart vets are probably reading the writing on the wall ... which might be a big reason Rudy Odom has hung his cleats up after an injury-hampered career. Best of luck to him. (With fellow walk-on Jorell Bostrum having seemingly passed Odom onto the two-deep in recent weeks, I doubt Odom's departure will affect Auburn's depth chart in any substantial way, even at offensive line. I hope, anyway.)
--Can't say it's surprising to have Taylor and Chizik say two completely opposite things about the same issue--i.e. Billings's status, and whether it's Chizik or the University that has the final say on his eligibility--given that Taylor's happy to speak whatever happens to be crossing his mind even when reporters are present and that Chizik wants the media as in the dark and/or confused as possible at all times. But it is interesting, and I have to wonder if there's been any behind-the-scenes discussion about it.
--Tommy Trott's description of Dr. Gustav's attention-to-detail was encouraging to read. We've all read "Such-and-such coach is a stickler to detail" a thousand times, but to have a player explain why his coach cares so much was intriguing and helps explain, I think, why Malzahn has had the kind of success he's had.
Trott expressing confidence in Todd's arm is nice, too. Anyone expressing confidence in Todd's arm is nice. I'd like to see all the confidence the team can muster, please. (Will it reassure me until we see him in action? No. But it'll still be nice.)
--Maybe there's a new curfew, maybe there isn't. My question: how do you enforce a curfew for 100 players who live in 100 different places all over the city? Deos Chizik have access to the Chevron surveillance videos to see who's making a midnight Doritos run?
OK, a post on what the hell I've been doing this week (and will be doing the rest of this week) momentarily.