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August 3, 2013

Auburn Practice Report, 8/3: Demetruce McNeal back at practice in limited role

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com


AUBURN, Ala. — Reporters were permitted to see roughly 20 minutes of practice on Saturday, which marked Day 2 of Auburn’s fall camp. Here are some thoughts and observations from the media’s short time at practice.

Auburn offensive line coach J.B. Grimes was hands-on with his unit on Saturday. Here, he watches redshirt freshman Shon Coleman attacks a tackling sled. (Photo by Todd Van Emst)

Auburn offensive line coach J.B. Grimes was hands-on with his unit on Saturday. Here, he watches redshirt freshman Shon Coleman attacks a tackling sled. (Photo by Todd Van Emst)

  • Demetruce McNeal’s lack of participation was the biggest story of Friday’s practice. The senior safety was back on Saturday, but didn’t look much different than he did the previous day. He appeared to be favoring his left leg as he watched teammates run through drills and occasionally glancing down at a piece of paper in his hands. Unlike Friday, he donned a helmet for the first time. Gus Malzahn would only say that McNeal has a “medical issue that he’s working through,” declining to lend any insight as to when the Tigers’ top returning tackler will be cleared to practice without any limitations.
  • Offensive line coach J.B. Grimes had a lot of instruction for his group Saturday. “Get that second step!” he said. “(You’ve got to) get vertical push on that down guy!” The drill involved two linemen lining up with their hand on the ground across from a defender. The goal (obviously) was to get leverage on the player acting as the defensive lineman and move him out of the way. Grimes had them working in alternating groups.
  • Four players who fielded punts on Friday were back at it Saturday: wide receivers Trovon Reed, Quan Bray and Marcus Davis along with cornerback Chris Davis. The only one missing Saturday was running back Jonathan Ford. He was still in a return capacity, however, as he was working with kick returners. The other four kick returners were running backs Corey Grant and Tre Mason, wide receiver Ricardo Louis and defensive back Jonathan Jones.
  • The four quarterbacks jockeying for position at the top of the depth chart tossed the ball back and forth to each other. Newcomers Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson paired up together, while Jonathan Wallace and Kiehl Frazier did the same. Offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Rhett Lashlee gave each of them feedback, while Malzahn watched silently in the background chewing on a wad of bubblegum.
  • To reiterate something repeated by nearly every other media member on Friday: Yes, Johnson is quite tall. He’s every bit of the 6-foot-5 he’s listed at on the team’s official roster.
  • Avery Young, who started three games at right tackle last season as a true freshman, looked fine during every drill he took part in Saturday. The sophomore was sidelined most of last season with a shoulder injury, and surgery on it forced him to miss most of the spring. But through two days of fall camp, it looks like he is fully recovered.
  • Malzahn runs a tight ship in nearly every aspect of his program. One area where he seems to be lenient, however, is a dress code for the coaching staff. Few, if any, matched with each other Saturday. Malzahn had on a long-sleeve orange Auburn shirt and khaki shorts (along with his signature visor), Lashlee wore a short-sleeve orange Auburn T-shirt and blue shorts. The winner of the day was defensive line coach Rodney Garner, who was wearing at least two, possibly three shirts. He had an orange Auburn pullover and another long-sleeve blue shirt underneath. The lesson here: The heat don’t bother Rodney Garner, y’all.


  1. You know, the whole “Malzahn is lenient because he doesn’t dress his coaching staff like matching twins” bit at the end of this report left a strong taste of irrelevant BS to cover up otherwise fine work. Of what possible interest is it to…well…anyone at all what the coaches wear or don’t wear so long as they don’t show up in G-strings? Leniency (or indulgence, or permissiveness, or whatever other word the thesaurus might suggest) has nothing to do with it. I have zero inkling as to why you tacked that fashion report on there. It sticks out…in a bad way.

    Comment by Roman Berry — August 3, 2013 @ 7:46 pm

  2. Roman: I was just having a little fun with one of my observations. As you can tell, I didn’t draw any conclusions from it, such as, “Since Malzahn’s coaching staff doesn’t dress the exact same, there are obviously undisciplined, etc. etc.” Again, it was an observation, just like noting Malzahn chewing bubblegum for the second straight day while watching practice. In practice reports I’ve done elsewhere, I’ve commented on what the staff wears as well as what music is played during drills as they prepare for an opponent. I felt this fashion-related commentary was a funny bit of minutiae to include; obviously, from your impassioned dissent, you disagreed.

    Thanks for reading, as ever. –RB–

    Comment by Ryan Black — August 3, 2013 @ 7:59 pm

  3. You seem to have some very um… passionate readers. I like that some personality comes through in your articles. Keep it up and ignore the crazies.

    Comment by wrx — August 3, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

  4. Actually, it was the Univ Ga athletic director who was caught with women’s panties if I remember correctly on a DUI charge. LOL.

    Ona similar note see the Alabama fan misspelled “allegence” tattoo on Fox Sports?

    Then you have the Twitter photo of an Alabama recruit flashing money…Milner?

    Comment by wt — August 3, 2013 @ 10:02 pm

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