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August 31, 2011

Video: De-recruiting the freshmen, no coin flip on the o-line and playing through pink eye

Here’s a video from Wednesday night’s assistant coach interviews. It’s got running backs coach Curtis Luper, offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor.

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Late night notes: Though not a starter, Burgess the first backup at center, both guard spots

Sophomore Blake Burgess didn’t win the starting center job, but he’ll have an important role, serving as the first backup in the game at center or both guard spots should someone get injured.

“It takes a special type of person to be able to do more than one thing like that,” offensive line coach Jeff Grimes said. “He’s smart enough conscientious enough and reliable enough that I’m completely confident in him handling that.”

Burgess cross-trained at guard in the latter part of camp while Reese Dismukes secured the starting center spot.
When Burgess found out he didn’t win the job, he took it well.

“I know he was down,” Grimes said. “He never let anybody see that. He came back the very next day willing to work and do whatever he could to help the team.”

Grimes said the starting five clearly did enough to separate themselves from the group — “We didn’t have to flip a coin for it,” he said. “The five guys who earned that job earned them” — but he said that could change over the course of the season.

“I’ve been in a lot of seasons where a guy isn’t performing well and another guy, maybe a young guy, comes on and beats the guy out and starts Game 4 or Game 5,” he said. “That could still happen.

“At this point, I feel very confident that we’ve got the right five on the field. Are there two or three other guys who are close enough where I’d feel OK about them in a game? Yeah.”

Grimes didn’t tip his hand about whether or not freshmen Greg Robinson and Christian Westerman, who made strong early impressions, would play.

“They’re still freshmen,” he said.

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Here are some more notes and quotes from assistant interviews Wednesday night:

  • Speaking of Dismukes, Grimes is putting a lot of faith in the true freshman to start. But he said Dismukes is a smart, confident player who was aided by enrolling early last winter. “He just gets it really fast,” he said. Grimes also complimented Dismukes’ “functional strength.”
  • Dismukes will have some help, though. The guards on either side of him — senior Jared Cooper and junior John Sullen – have been in the system for three years. They can help him. “I want my center to do it, but there might be times when the center needs a little help,” Grimes said. “There may be a time on Saturday when one of those guys will recognize the front and the appropriate call before he does — or even correct him. That’s OK. It’s a collective effort up there. The bottom line is that, before the ball is snapped, that the five of us are on the same page.”
  • A.J. Greene is another veteran Grimes has been proud of, even though he got beat out for the starting right tackle job by Chad Slade “One thing I can say about AJ is that he has a great attitude,” Grimes said. “The first week of camp, I think he was struggling a little bit, still didn’t completely trust that leg. Then he was beat up for a few days. The last week and a half, he’s really come on, had a great attitude, really been working to get better. He’s actually been encouraging to some of the younger guys because he certainly has some experiences they can draw from.”
  • Wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor confirmed what we thought about junior Travante Stallworth, who is atop the depth chart at one of the receiver spots. “He’s crafty,” Taylor said. “He’s smart enough that he never lets his alignment stop him from doing his assignment.”
  • DeAngelo Benton might be behind Emory Blake at one outside receiver spot, but Taylor says he plays a position where plenty of passes go, so he’ll have a big role. Trooper, who took his usual dig at Benton’s age, has been impressed with the junior’s work ethic this August, something that’s lagged in the past. “If you watch the kid practice, this kid sprints on and off the field, and it sent a message to the rest of them,” Taylor said. “It started out with just them, now everybody sprints out there now. It just became contagious. That’s what I like about him. He’s been on a long road.”
  • Benton, by the way, had pink eye early in camp. Didn’t miss a practice. “That let me know his toughness is there,” Taylor said. (Also, that sounds gross.)
  • Quan Bray didn’t make Trooper’s 7-man circle of trust last week. Sounds like he’s getting closer. “The playing time for him, his job will be a lot smaller until he proves that he can handle more and more and more,” Taylor said. “He better prove himself on special teams. He better prove himself when he does get his number called he can make those type of plays and do the things we need him to do. And I think he will. … Hopefully, by midway through this season, he’ll be a guy you can’t keep off the field.”
  • Rumors that Jay Wisner is back. Trooper wouldn’t comment, saying, “That’s a Gene Chizik question.” Chizik had already come and gone for interviews without it coming up.
  • Trooperism of the night about the season getting close: “It’s almost like Christmas. You get to open up your presents to see how it’s going to turn out. I just my hope my bike doesn’t have a flat tire.”
  • Trovon Reed and Bray are the punt returners. “Don’t be surprised if you see them back there at the same time,” Taylor said. “They’re dynamic. We’re hoping that’s going to be a plus for us.”
  • Auburn and Utah State have a coaching connection … sort of. Tigers special teams coordinator Jay Boulware coached at Utah in 2005-06 when current Utah State head coach Gary Andersen was the Utes’ defensive coordinator. The two weren’t particularly close — they haven’t talked since going separate ways in 2007 — but Boulware said Andersen does a “phenomenal job.”
  • Grimes coached at BYU at that time. The Cougars played Utah in both seasons. “So we’re real familiar with what Gary does and what he likes to do,” Boulware said. “We feel we have a pretty good insight on what their plan is.”
  • Running backs coach Curtis Luper was extremely complimentary of Tre Mason, who he said has a low center of gravity, great feet, great vision. Mason, the No.3 back, could play many roles, including returning kicks and playing Wildcat quarterback. “He gives us an added dimension,” Luper said.
  • Luper knows Auburn is still short on tailbacks. He’d like more. “Last year we had two and a half. Mario (Fannin), Mike (Dyer) and I count Onterio (McCalebb) as a half. Now we have two, because I’m counting Tre as a half and Onterio as a half tailback and Mike. But we had Cam last year, so it remains to be seen who will take up the slack for him.”
  • Defensive line coach Mike Pelton said freshmen Angelo Blackson and Devaunte Sigler are the two tackles who will go in first after starters Ken Carter and Jeffrey Whitaker. Fellow freshman Gabe Wright, from Carver, is behind Sigler. “Still playing a lot of them,” Pelton said. “11 o’clock game. 95 degrees. Hot. Don’t know the tempo of their offense. Gonna try to play a lot of guys. That’s the plan.”
  • Blackson sounds like he’s got some great potential. “He’s one of those kids you wish you had 10 of,” Pelton said. “I’ll be excited to see him go out, see how he responds to the Auburn crowd getting that defense going and taking it to another level with a crowd behind him. It’ll be interesting to see.”
  • Another freshman, Jabrian Niles, will not dress and appears likely to redshirt. “I saw some great things from him this fall,” Pelton said. “Right now he’s just not ready to get in there.”
  • Boulware named five true freshmen who have caught his eye and will play on special teams: Jaylon Denson, Jermaine Whitehead, Robenson Therezie, Erique Florence and Justin Garrett.
  • Luper called the act of taking freshmen down a few notches “de-recruiting.” And he says Auburn’s coaches have to do it all the time. “Because for so long it’s just about them,” he said. “It’s I, I, I. Me, me, me. …  It’s incumbent upon us to make them good teammates. And some are more challenging than others.”
  • How do they do it? Sometimes it’s letting the natural process take over at practice. “When they step on the field and get hit in the mouth the first time, they know it’s for real then,” he said.
  • The bigger the signing day stunt, the more de-recruiting that takes place. That means you, Gabe Wright. “He hears it all the time,” Luper said with a laugh. “‘Nick who?’ He hears it ALL … THE … TIME.”

Auburn men’s basketball non-conference schedule features Hawaiian tourney, FSU trip

Auburn released the non-conference portion of its men’s basketball schedule Wednesday, a slate that includes a trip to Hawaii for the Diamond Head Classic and a Jan. 4 game at Florida State.

“Like I said last year, you have to build your schedule to where you think your team or program is in its building stage,” head coach Tony Barbee said.

“Obviously last year, we had some contests against some higher quality teams but not an abundance of them. This year, I think you see the natural progression of the team which leads to the natural progression of the schedule.”

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The Tigers open the season Nov. 11 at the Auburn Arena against McNeese State.

After four home games to open the season, they travel to Newark, N.J., for the Big East-SEC Challenge o n Dec. 2, when they’ll play Seton Hall.

Auburn’s trip to Hawaii from Dec. 22-25 starts with a game against the host, Hawaii. Xavier, Long Beach State, Kansas State, Clemson, UTEP and Southern Illinois are also in the tournament.

The Tigers’ final SEC tuneup is against Florida State on Jan. 4.

Auburn has the chance of playing 19 games against 2011 postseason teams, including nine who played in the NCAA tournament.

Here’s the Tigers’ full schedule. All times Eastern:

Nov. 11: McNeese State, 8 pm
Nov. 14: Kennesaw State, 8 pm
Nov. 25: Nicholls State, 8 pm
Nov. 28: Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 8 pm
Dec. 2: (1) at Seton Hall (ESPNU), 9 pm
Dec. 14: South Florida, 9 pm
Dec. 17: North Florida, 8 pm
Dec. 19: Florida A&M, 8 pm
Dec. 22: (2) at Hawaii (ESPNU), tba
Dec. 23: (2) Xavier/Long Beach State (ESPN2/ESPNU), 12 a.m./2:30
Dec. 25: (2) Kansas State/Clemson/UTEP/Southern Illinois (ESPN2/ESPNU), tba
Dec. 30: Georgia Southern, 8 pm
Jan. 2: Bethune-Cookman, 8 pm
Jan. 4: at Florida State, 7 pm
Jan. 7: at Vanderbilt (SECN), 1:30 pm
Jan. 11: Kentucky (SECN), 8 pm
Jan. 14: Ole Miss (SECN), 1:30 pm
Jan. 17: at LSU (ESPNU), 7 pm
Jan. 21: South Carolina (SECN), 1:30 pm
Jan. 25: at Arkansas (CSS), 7 pm
Jan. 28: at Tennessee (ESPN2), tba
Feb. 1: Georgia (SECN), 8 pm
Feb. 4: at Mississippi State (SECN), 8 pm
Feb. 7: Alabama (ESPNU), 9 pm
Feb. 11: at Ole Miss (FSN), 7 pm
Feb. 18: Mississippi State (FSN), 8 pm
Feb. 21: at Florida (ESPNU), 7 pm
Feb. 25: Arkansas (SECN), 4 pm
Feb. 29: at Alabama (SECN), 8 pm
Mar. 3: LSU (CBS), 2 pm
Mar. 8-11: (3) SEC Tournament (SEC Net/ABC), tba
(1) Big East-SEC Challenge (Newark, NJ – Prudential Center)
(2) Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu, HI – Stan Sheriff Center)
(3) SEC Tournament (New Orleans, LA – New Orleans Arena)
* All Times Eastern

August 30, 2011

Video: Freshmen buckling up, two days in a daze and accepting the backup role

Tonight’s video features offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and quarterback Clint Moseley. Back with more tomorrow night.

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Late night notes: Back from despair, Clint Moseley fully accepting of backup QB role

Clint Moseley said it took about two days.

Two days of nothing. Not anger. Not sadness. Just … blank.

“I was just like … here,” the sophomore said of his mindset after finding out he’d be the backup quarterback Aug. 18. “I didn’t know what to think. I couldn’t grasp anything. I was just really confused, really just blank. Like I said. I had no emotion.”

Now, Moseley said he’s moved on, accepting his backup role and going about his business to be the best backup he can be.

“It came to a point where I can’t not give 100 percent,” Moseley said. “If I’m going to be the backup, I’ve got to be the backup. It’s important.”

Moseley, who admitted to throwing “pity parties” for himself early in his Auburn career, talked with his parents and other people he trusted to figure out what he should do.

He finally pulled himself out of his daze and got back to work on the practice field, knowing he’s a play away from getting in the game.

“I really do have to prepare to be a starter,” he said. “And have to convince myself that I am a starter, which is pretty hard to do, but not impossible.”

Moseley said he’s taking this season before figuring things out afterward. Looking long-term, he said he’d like to get his degree from Auburn.

“I don’t want to make any childish, foolish decisions in the heat of the moment,” he said.

He said he and Trotter, after a cooling off period, remain good friends.

“I called up Barrett, told him I’d accept it,” Moseley said. “He is my best friend no matter what. We’re great. Nothing’s really changed … off the field.”

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Here are some more notes and quotes from Tuesday night’s brief set of interviews:

  • Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said Auburn has pretty much known its depth chart for a while. They key this week is getting very specific with personnel in certain formations. “The unique thing about a first game is you’ve got to be ready to make adjustments because you think you have an idea of what you’re going to get,” Malzahn said, “but until you actually get there, usually well into the first quarter, you’ve got to be able to adjust too.”
  • How many carries will Tre Mason get as the third running back? Malzahn didn’t make it sound like a ton. “He’s behind Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb and those two will definitely get their carries,” he said.
  • Regarding Dyer and McCalebb, Malzahn has a certain comfort with those two. “I think as the offensive coordinator you’re comfortable with the guys you have information on, that you know how they’re going to react, whether good, bad or in between,” he said.
  • That’s not to say Malzahn has total comfort. He used the word “anxiety” quite a bit in his short interview. I can imagine going into a game with so many inexperienced players is nerve-wracking for a coach.
  • How do the young guys get used to the game speed? “They have to buckle up,” Malzahn said. “They just have to get it done. We recruited those guys and we told them we were willing to play true freshmen, and those guys have to be ready. We’re going to throw them in there and see what happens and we’ll stick with the ones that have the right attitude and handle the right situations and try to get better.”
  • Malzahn didn’t quite close the door on senior RT A.J. Greene, who is a backup to redshirt freshman Chad Slade. Greene still isn’t 100 percent back from last year’s broken leg. “He’s not 100 percent but you see him getting better and better,” Malzahn said. “He’s going to be a factor. There’s no doubt. We’re going to need his help before the year is out.
  • Freshman Brandon Fulse is adjusting to the H-back spot after being mostly a tight end in high school. He’s adjusting to the college level too. “I’m coming to the SEC where they say it’s a man’s sport and now after a month I’m really seeing that,” he said. “It takes a man to be in the SEC. To be an H-back you have to be very tough.”
  • Fulse said the speed is the biggest adjustment. “The first week I got here Dee Ford just ran right past me,” he said. He thinks by the third game, he’ll be all caught up.
  • Fulse is from Fort Meade, Fla., the same town as McCalebb. They go way back. “Being reunited with him is good,” Fulse said. “He’s taken me under his wing, showing me everything, the ends and outs of the game.

Video: Hanging out in ‘Puppyville,’ inviting the haters and not walking around with posters

Here’s some video from this afternoon’s interviews. It’s got  cornerback T’Sharvan Bell, defensive end Dee Ford, right tackle A.J. Greene and quarterback Barrett Trotter. Back with more after tonight’s interviews.

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A.J. Greene still feeling effects of leg injury, upbeat despite not winning right tackle job

A.J. Greene isn’t starting, but he’s not complaining. The senior, in fact, was very upbeat about his position on the team and Auburn’s future with Chad Slade as the starting right tackle.

“I understood the coaches’ decision,” Greene said. “These guys are my brothers. I’m not going to ever have an upset attitude about what is going on. I’m a team player, I’ve very proud of Chad. I’ve seen him grow a lot. I’m very excited to see him start this year.”

The 6-foot-5, 295-pound Greene, who won the right tackle job last August, broke his left ankle in the Clemson game last season and missed the final 11 games.

He admitted it still affects him, especially when he pushes off, and he knows he might not be the same player.

“It’s always been something like that in the back of my mind,” Greene said. “I’m not going to lie: It does affect my performance. At the end of the day, it’s a business. I need to come out there and do what I need to do — and do what’s necessary for us to win games.”

Greene, being one of the few seniors on the roster, is embracing his veteran role, however, starter or not.

“I still play a big part,” he said. “The way they come out, the attitude. … I can be that guy on the sidelines motivating everybody. When everything starts to get rough, I can be that guy on the sidelines motivating everybody. Like: Let’s go. Let’s pick it up. Let’s do what we have to do to win this game. I’m excited to take on that role.”

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Here are some more notes and quotes from player interviews this afternoon:

  • How much will the offense change without Cam Newton? Greene thinks pace will be the biggest deal. “We’ll just run it at a faster pace, the two-minute pace, throughout the whole game,” he said. “That’s our offensive edge. That’s what we’re going to use to defeat opponent.”
  • Quarterback Barrett Trotter can’t wait for Saturday to get here. “I’m excited as I can be,” he said. “Can’t get here quick enough. I’m ready to play. I’m sick of all this kind of stuff. I’m just ready to go play.”
  • Trotter said things aren’t different for him on campus after being named QB1. “I don’t walk around with a poster or anything,” he joked.
  • Clint Moseley was bummed when he didn’t get the starting job. We all saw the video. But Trotter said he and Moseley are still good friends. “I know he was really disappointed and upset the first few days after it happened, but we’re good,” Trotter said. “Been friends through the whole thing. It hasn’t changed at all.”
  • Any changes in Trotter since he’s been named the starter? “I think his urgency has picked up,” cornerback T’Sharvan Bell said. “ust seeing him in the two-minute drill, we practice that day-in, day-out. He definitely has more urgency. He’s a lot more vocal. He’s telling guys ‘Get down, get down, get down!’ It’s a fast-paced offense, guys should already be down. But he’s making sure everybody’s set. That’s the big thing with him. His urgency has definitely picked up.”
  • T-Bell said Trotter’s decision making will surprise people. He doesn’t throw many picks in practice.
  • Who’s the toughest receiver to guard? T-Bell said Trovon Reed, hands down. “He’s electric with the ball,” Bell said. “Once he gets the ball, it can be a hitch and he can turn it into a 60-, 70-yard touchdown. I definitely think he can be a game-breaker.”
  • There are a lot of freshmen on the roster, but they’ll play big roles. WR Emory Blake said the team’s been very accepting of the new faces. He didn’t say it was a problem with this group, but sometimes players come in with big heads. “Sometimes it happens, because wherever you come from, you’re the best,” Blake said. “A lot of people either come in humbled or sometimes they come in a little cocky, and that’s fine too. But you’ve got to produce on the field, bottom line.”
  • There are so many young guys in the defensive backfield that T-Bell calls it “Puppyville.” What does that make him? “I’m a puppy too,” he said. “This is the first time that I’m going to be a full-time starter.”
  • T-Bell said the defense is going to be a lot different this year, especially with the nickel being utilized more. “Last year we were a true zone team, so we’d play a lot of quarters,” he said. “This year we’re going to try to man guys up and get after the quarterback a little bit. I like getting after the quarterback a lot.”
  • That could leave some of those youngsters on an island against wide receivers. Problematic? “I don’t think so,” Bell said. “Everybody gets beat. It’s going to happen. It’s just how you respond. … They’re going to do a good job responding and not tuck their tail once they get beaten and have a mental breakdown during the game.”
  • Defensive end Dee Ford says he’s more mature this year and it should translate on the field. “I used to just make plays, make plays,” he said. “But now I play within the defense, as I told you in the spring, I found my identity for the team. Now I play within the defense, make plays, third down, I do what I do.”
  • Ford noted the difference one player can make. “As crazy as it sounds, one player being out of position, it can cost the whole defense in this league,” he said.
  • Auburn’s got a pretty good running back combination in Mike Dyer and Onterio McCalebb. Here’s Ford’s take on practicing against them: “First of all, having to chase down Onterio when you’re tired, you don’t want to deal with that. And Dyer, he’s heavy. The deal to our offense is when you get tired. What are you going to do when you’re tired? And versus the speed and the power, I think it’s going to be very tough for the opposing defenses.”
  • We finally had a chance to ask Ford about freshman DT Angelo Blackson doing an impersonation of him at Rookie Night. Ford liked it, admitting Blackson got him pretty good. “My momma always told me, ‘You’re not doing nothing unless you have haters,'” he said with a laugh. “He got me good. I needed that. It was funny.”
  • The Tigers aren’t getting a whole lot of pub this year, even though they’re the defending champs. The players sense it. “We feel a little disrespected that coming off a national championship, they’re basically telling us that we’re not talented enough to play football,” Ford said. “They’re forgetting the fact that we are football players. Yeah, they’re sleeping on us. So we’re just going to take that as motivation.”

Florida transfer Mike Blakely’s NCAA appeal denied; freshman running back will redshirt

Auburn fans won’t see running back Mike Blakelyon the field this fall.

The Florida transfer’s NCAA appeal for immediate eligibility was denied, head coach Gene Chiziksaid, meaning the freshman will have to sit out a year, per NCAA transfer rules. He’ll redshirt.

Blakely, a 5-foot-9, 206-pound back who got plenty of reps throughout August practice, will instead help the Tigers as part of the scout team.

“He’s going to have a great year this year helping us win,” Chizik said.

Blakely was a four-star recruit coming out of Manatee High in Bradenton, Fla., the No. 6 running back nationally according to Rivals.

He committed to Florida when Urban Meyer was the coach and signed with the school after Will Muschamp succeeded him. Blakely enrolled early but never practiced for Florida before deciding to transfer.

He got his outright release from the Gators in early May. He chose to attend Auburn, one of his top choices during the recruiting process, a few weeks later.

The Tigers hoped Blakely would provide running back depth behind Mike Dyer and Onterio McCalebb.”He’s certainly talented enough to play now,” Chizik said.

** Chizik said McCalebb being ahead of Dyer on the depth chart doesn’t mean much at this point.

“I wouldn’t read anything into that at all,” he said. “You’ll see a lot of names and faces at tailback.”

Recappping Gene Chizik’s press conference; RB Mike Blakely’s NCAA appeal denied

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik spoke to reporters at his weekly press conference today.

The big news? Running back Mike Blakely, a Florida transfer, will not be eligible this season and will redshirt.

He appealed the NCAA, hoping that since he hadn’t practiced with Florida that he would be able to play this year. The appeal was denied.

Here’s what else Chizik had to say:

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  • “Game week, finally here. Exciting for our coaches. We’re really looking forward to Utah State, the challenges they pose.”
  • Chizik said Utah State has a lot of returning starters on offense, especially on the line. “It’s going to be a challenge for our defense.”
  • Aggies have two potential starting quarterbacks who bring different body types. Not saying which one will start yet.
  • Chizik guessed that Auburn has 25-30 players who haven’t played a college game who will be out there Saturday.
  • Chizik said young players will get in throughout the game. “We’re not holding anything back.”
  • Before handing out scholarships to walk-ons, Auburn’s roster was around 70 scholarship players. “It’s all hands on deck.”
  • “I’m excited for Barrett Trotter. I’ve just got a lot of confidence that he’s going to go in there and be very poised.”
  • Re: Onterio McCalebb over Mike Dyer on the depth chart. “I wouldn’t read anything into that at all. You’re going to see a lot of faces and names at tailback.”
  • On freshman center Reese Dismukes: “As the games go on, your going to see him get better and better and better.”
  • Confident in Chad Slade‘s ability to protect the edge. Said he’s come on this camp.
  • Chizik called WR Travante Stallworth “Ol’ Steady.” Knows where to be, what to do all the time.
  • Most of the freshmen who will be on special teams are on the depth chart already, but Chizik said some more could play on coverage units.
  • On expectations for Trotter: “My advice was this: You’re Barrett Trotter. Don’t try to be Chris Todd or Jason Campbell.
  • Chizik complimented the “older guys” on the team, some of which are only juniors. “They’ve done phenomenal.”
  • On how freshmen are treated: “I feel like they’re really, really embraced, provided they come in with some humility. If they come in with a great deal of humility and just go to work, I feel like the guys embrace that.”
  • RB Mike Blakely, a Florida transfer, is not going to be eligible this season after his NCAA appeal was denied. He’ll redshirt.
  • Chizik was disappointed but said Blakely will still practice and give the team good looks in practice. “He’s going to have a great year this year helping us win.”
  •  “He’s certainly talented enough to play now,” Chizik said of Blakely.
  • Chizik on expectations: “We don’t talk about what everybody else’s expectations are. We talk about what ours are.”

August 29, 2011

Thoughts on Auburn’s Week 1 depth chart

Auburn released its depth chart today. Get to it by clicking here. Now, some thoughts:

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  • The first thing that jumps off the page is Onterio McCalebb being listed as the starter ahead of Mike Dyer. Auburn very clearly put “ors” into its listing, so it very easily could have put an “or” between its two featured runners. Is this because Dyer missed some time? Is it a Week 1 nod to the older player? Is it a disciplinary thing with Dyer? Or will the designation even matter once the game starts and both get significant carries? Not sure. But it is odd.
  • Tre Mason as the No. 3 back is no surprise. He had a better August than Anthony Morgan. No Mike Blakely on this list would tell me the NCAA decision probably isn’t going to go his way.
  • The offensive line from left to right is: Brandon Mosley, Jared Cooper, Reese Dismukes, John Sullen and Chad Slade. Dismukes everyone figured would start. I thought Sullen’s RG spot would be vulnerable, especially considering Blake Burgess had been working there to cross train and freshman Christian Westerman has done some nice things at backup LG. Slade starting over senior A.J. Greene is a little bit of a surprise, but Greene missed so much time with an undisclosed injury early in camp that it can”t be too much of a shock.
  • I get the feeling the offensive line spots aren’t set in stone. Expect some shuffling before the end of the year.
  • H-backs are Philip Lutzenkirchen, Brandon Fulse and Ladarious Phillips. Don’t know if that’s a rotating deal based on the situation. It seems like the coaches still don’t totally trust Phillips there.
  • Receiver spots are as expected, except for Travante Stallworth being atop one of the positions. (Then again, Trooper Taylor said he likes how Stallworth is always doing the right thing.) It looks like it’s an inside spot, since C.J. Uzomah is behind him. (Not an outside spot as I tweeted earlier.) Figured Trovon Reed for that spot, but he’s on the outside working behind Quindarius Carr from the looks of it. Remember, Emory Blake will play all over, so even though DeAngelo Benton is listed as a backup, he should get time.
  • Also of note: freshman Quan Bray made the list after not making Trooper’s 7-man circle of trust last week. Looks like he might have come on a little bit to make the cut.
  • Not too many surprises on defense. We knew a lot of young defensive tackles would be in the mix. Three — Gabe Wright, Angelo Blackson and Devaunte Sigler – are true freshmen.
  • Justin Delaine is the third power end option behind Nosa Eguae and Craig Sanders.. Thought we’d see Joel Bonomolo somewhere on this list, but he’s not there.
  • Freshman Justin Garrett makes the two-deep as a backup to Jonathan Evans at one of the outside spots. Thought Jawara White would be in the mix there, but he’s not on the list.
  • LOTS of cornerbacks listed. Auburn went as far as listing a nickelback, which tells you the Tigers will use that formation quite a bit this year.
  • Kind of a surprise to see Ryan Smith along with Ikeem Means as backups to Demetruce McNeal. Hadn’t heard his name too much when it came to the safety rotation.
  • Auburn appears to have cut ties with Carr as the punt returner. Reed and Bray are the only two listed there. I guess the Tigers saw enough from Carr last year or are thinking his increased role at receiver makes it wise to give someone else a shot there.
  • That Bray and Mason are both listed as kick returners is not surprising. Bray being listed first kind of is. You’d think McCalebb, with his experience, would be the first one listed.
  • Apparently, it’s Chris Brooks, not Chandler like it was last year. At least that’s what the depth chart says.
  • There are 17 true freshman on the depth chart, which goes three deep at spots. If you include redshirt freshmen, there are 27. That’s a lot.
  • A breakdown of the starters: 1 true freshman, 1 redshirt freshman, 7 sophomores, 9 juniors, 4 seniors.