BY RYAN BLACK | firstname.lastname@example.org
AUBURN, Ala. — If everything goes according to plan, Auburn will know who its starting quarterback is by Monday.
And if the Tigers come to a conclusion before then, obviously, that would be even better, head coach Gus Malzahn said.
“It could be (Friday), Saturday or Sunday,” Malzahn said Thursday. “Any time before next Monday would be really good for us, but like I’ve said before, we’re not sure.”
Auburn has had 16 practices since fall camp began, holding its final two-a-day practice Thursday. The Tigers will then have their fourth scrimmage on Saturday; assuming they make a decision at quarterback after the scrimmage, that would give the new signal-caller roughly 10 practices to work exclusively with the first-team offense.
“You want as much (practice) as possible,” Malzahn said. “Ideally, it would have been a week ago, and you get three weeks, but the earlier the better.”
Quarterback isn’t the only position still unsettled with the Aug. 31 opener against Washington State drawing ever closer. That’s why Malzahn hopes to solve those battles following Saturday’s scrimmage as well.
“Well, we’ve got a lot of stuff figured out, but there’s still a few we’re trying to answer,” he said. “Obviously, that’ll be two weeks from the first game, so you’d like to have pieces of the puzzle in place.”
Special teams update: Wallace at holder, four players working at punt return
Regardless of how Jonathan Wallace finishes in the starting quarterback competition, he still might see playing time at other spots on the field.
Kicker Cody Parkey lauded the progress the sophomore has made since he began holding kicks during fall camp.
“I’m teaching him as much as I can,” Parkey said. “He’s got potential and that’s the most important thing. Ryan (White) has been doing it for three years for me. To have a solid guy behind him and watching him like Jonathan Wallace — who is willing to learn — is good. I would say he’s doing well.”
Though Wallace is White’s backup at holder, he provides another dimension — by either running or passing — if there is a trick play or a botched snap.
“I think that’s our theory behind it, in case something like that does happen,” Parkey said. “We want someone that can make a play instead of taking a loss on the play.”
In other special teams news, Malzahn provided a brief update on the Tigers’ punt returners.
“We’ve got three or four guys working back there,” he said. “Quan Bray, Chris Davis, Marcus Davis. Obviously, we know what Trovon (Reed) can do, so we’re giving those guys all opportunities, and there’s been a few live situations that we’ve been able to evaluate those guys. I think they’ll be ready.”
Safety Demetruce McNeal practiced Thursday morning and “looked 100 percent,” Malzahn said. Hybrid safety/linebacker Justin Garrett attended practice but didn’t participate. … Three walk-ons were awarded scholarships Wednesday night: wide receiver Dimitri Reese, defensive back Blake Poole and running back Chandler Shakespeare.