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August 23, 2013

Miss anything? Links to all recent Auburn content in one place

Auburn 31, ULM Louisiana-Monroe 28

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra | Like the blog on Facebook

AUBURN, Ala. — Some may remember a post on WarEagleExtra.com two weeks ago which linked to 19 different stories at one time.

Well, it’s the same deal here. There have been 22 additions to the blog since Monday (not including this post, of course), and with almost 48 hours remaining until we get to speak with any of Auburn’s players or coaches again — we’ll be speaking with coordinators, Ellis Johnson and Rhett Lashlee on Sunday evening, for those wondering — it would be a good time to get caught up on all the latest goings-on with the Tigers.

So don’t frustrate yourself by trying to scroll down to take in every piece of content that’s been produced in the last four days. That’s what this post is here for: to make it simpler for you, the reader, by having everything compiled in one place.

If you’re looking for a notebook, we’ve got it. A feature? That too. Videos? Yes sir. Whatever you want, you should be able to find below. (And as per usual, each item is sectioned accordingly.)

NEWS & NOTES

8/19 — Injuries to keep Dee Ford and Jonathan Jones out of season opener

8/20 — True freshman Johnathan Ford switching from running back to cornerback

8/20 — Former Tigers Demetruce McNeal and Ricky Parks find new schools

8/20 — Gus Malzahn looks back at first fall camp as Tigers coach, feels team covered ‘all of our situations’

8/21 — 2014 schedule has Tigers hosting Arkansas in opener, traveling to Georgia and Alabama

8/22 — Six Tigers selected to coaches’ All-SEC preseason teams

8/22 — Demetruce McNeal officially enrolled at West Alabama

8/22 — Kiehl Frazier ‘in the mix’ for playing time in season opener, Justin Garrett returns to practice

VIDEO INTERVIEWS, POST-PRACTICE

8/19 — Gus Malzahn: Head coach says Nick Marshall ‘was a lot more vocal’ in first practice as starting QB

8/19 — Nick Marshall feels ‘blessed’ to start at quarterback for Tigers

8/19 — Rhett Lashlee says Nick Marshall ‘taking it and running with’ quarterback responsibilities

8/20 — Ellis Johnson has seen improvement ‘with past four practices’ after spate of injuries disrupt cohesiveness

8/20 — Auburn offense finds ‘best rhythm that we’ve had since I’ve been back’ in final practice of fall camp

8/21 — Junior defensive tackles Angelo Blackson and Gabe Wright

8/23 — Gus Malzahn pleased to see Nick Marshall ‘just as disappointed as the coaches’ when he makes a mistake

PLAYER/POSITION PROFILES

8/19 — Jonathan Wallace ahead of Jeremy Johnson in fight for backup QB spot

8/22 — Cassanova McKinzy believes weakside linebacker spot will showcase ‘everything I can do’

8/23 — Tigers not lacking for options in the backfield

MISCELLANEOUS ANALYSIS & SUCH

8/21 — Five questions (and five predictions) as Tigers head into regular season

8/22 — Replay Thursday’s live chat

8/23 — 4 at 4: Links to help the day pass by

4 at 4: Links to help the day pass by

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra | Like the blog on Facebook

AUBURN, Ala. — We’re on Day 1 of a two-day hiatus from media availability with Auburn’s players and coaches.

We have to fill in the gap somehow, so here are a few links for everyone to read before you head off for the weekend.

1. If you didn’t get a chance to read it earlier this week, Phillip Marshall of AuburnTigers.com traveled to Wilcox County, Ga., the home of Auburn’s new starting quarterback, Nick Marshall. (Of course, the writer and quarterback are not related.) A lot of great background info on the Tigers’ signal-caller here.

graphics42. Give yourselves a pat on the back, Tiger fans: Yahoo! named Auburn the top school in the country for tailgating Friday. The site had three other SEC schools — Ole Miss, Alabama and LSU — holding down spots in its top five. Sounds pretty similar to the BCS rankings, doesn’t it? (And yes, I know this article isn’t the be-all, end-all of tailgating rankings, as fans of other teams who didn’t make the list — or those that didn’t land higher — are vehemently disagreeing with this poll. Still, somebody has to be No. 1, and here, the Tigers took the title.)

3. Auburn is far from the only team in the Southeastern Conference dealing with transfers. The Tigers have already seen two players safety Demetruce McNeal and tight end Ricky Parks move on to other schools since fall camp began.

At Texas A&M, redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Davis, one of Johnny Manziel’s backups, announced Thursday he has decided to ply his trade elsewhere. Alabama will be down one player on offense, too, as wide receiver Marvin Shinn is heading to South Alabama. Interestingly, he’s the second former Crimson Tide wideout to transfer to South Alabama recently, joining Danny Woodson Jr.

4. Once more, we’ll end on a clip of a classic Auburn game. Scott Scroggins, a statistician in Auburn’s athletic department, has continued his countdown to the 2013 season opener, now just eight days away. Eight also happened to be the yardage on Patrick Nix’s touchdown pass to Frank Sanders against Florida in 1994, which lifted the Tigers to a 36-33 victory over the top-ranked Gators.

(One note: This video is quite long, running more than 41 minutes. But if you need a help for your football fix, this should do the trick.)

(Another note: This game took place on my fifth birthday: Oct. 15, 1994. No, I can’t say I remember it — the game or what happened on that particular birthday. I might have gone to a Discovery Zone, though, for those who might have visited those kid-centric places.)

Anyway, the video of Auburn’s upset of Florida is below.

August 22, 2013

Auburn football: Demetruce McNeal officially enrolled at West Alabama

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra | Like the blog on Facebook

AUBURN, Ala.Demetruce McNeal is now a West Alabama Tiger.

Former Auburn safety Demetruce McNeal (12) officially enrolled at West Alabama on Thursday. (File photo)

Former Auburn safety Demetruce McNeal (12) officially enrolled at West Alabama on Thursday. (File photo)

The former Auburn safety officially enrolled Thursday morning, according to an official release from the school. He began practicing with the football team Thursday afternoon.

“We are excited to be adding Demetruce to our football team,” head coach Will Hall said in the statement. “Obviously, he has been a great player at Auburn, but the second thing is, in talking to a lot of people about him from his family, to his high school coaches and some of his coaches at Auburn, we believe he is going to be a good person here.”

Hall said McNeal is looking forward to the opportunity to continue his playing career with West Alabama.

“He is excited about coming here and excited about becoming a UWA Tiger, becoming part of a program that has a chance to win a national championship,” Hall said. “He understands that he will have to become us and we will not become him.”

McNeal was Auburn’s top returning tackler, making 90 stops last season. He was dismissed on Saturday afternoon following an arrest for second-degree marijuana possession earlier that morning.

On Tuesday, he tweeted that he would be enrolling at West Alabama. He wished “my former coaches and teammates the best this year,” while also denying any wrongdoing in regards to Saturday’s arrest. The College Park, Ga., native missed the last five practices of the spring for undisclosed personal reasons. He also sat out the first 10 sessions of fall camp following a surgery caused to treat an infection.

McNeal will make his debut with West Alabama on Sept. 7. The Tigers will host the Clark Atlanta Panthers at noon ET.

August 21, 2013

Auburn football: Five questions (and five predictions) as Tigers head into regular season

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra | Like the blog on Facebook

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn wrapped up its fall camp on Tuesday, the first since Gus Malzahn took over as head coach.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn found his starting quarterback during fall camp, but the Tigers still have question marks heading into their season opener Aug 31. (File by Todd Van Emst)

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn found his starting quarterback during fall camp, but the Tigers still have question marks heading into their season opener Aug 31. (File by Todd Van Emst)

The Tigers were able to solve what Malzahn considered “the No. 1 priority” heading into the regular season — settling on a quarterback. That four-man race concluded last Saturday, when Nick Marshall was named the starter. But with just 10 days left before Washington State comes into Jordan-Hare Stadium for the season opener, Auburn is still looking for answers at other positions.

Here are five questions (in no particular order) the Tigers will try to figure out prior to squaring off against the Cougars on Aug. 31, with (bold) predictions on what the outcomes will be:

Who starts at right tackle?

For the duration of fall camp, it appeared Avery Young and Patrick Miller were neck-and-neck at the position, as both saw time with the first-team offense. Earlier this week, however, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said Miller had “been working there a lot” in recent practices. During the same interview session, Lashlee said Young had moved inside and started taking snaps at both guard spots, though he saw more time on the left side, which has been manned by Alex Kozan.

Malzahn refused to shed any more light on the situation following practice on Tuesday, but expect a decision by the beginning of next week — even if the coaching staff doesn’t make its choice public.

Bold prediction: Miller becomes the right tackle, and Young, who Lashlee said is “talented enough to play all five positions,” steals the left guard spot from Kozan.

Who is the team’s go-to receiver?

One of the biggest unknowns heading into fall camp remains the same at its closure. The Tigers have a lot of options at receiver, but none has stood above the rest. Just see what Lashlee had to say earlier this week. “I’ll be honest right now,” he said. “I don’t know who our leading receiver is going to be.” Lashlee lauded juniors Quan Bray and Jaylon Denson for their consistency, but didn’t rule out tight end C.J. Uzomah possibly developing into the best pass-catcher the Tigers will have this fall.

Bold prediction: Sophomore Ricardo Louis, who was the “most explosive” player in camp according to teammates, establishes himself as the Tigers’ top receiver this season (and beyond).

What happens at defensive end without Dee Ford?

The Tigers certainly would have liked to have some semblance of a rotation in place by now. Injuries have made that difficult. The starter at left end, Ford has already been ruled out for the opener due to a ligament injury in his knee. But he’s far from the only player who dealt with an affliction during camp. Fellow ends Kenneth Carter and Nosa Eguae have missed time, while Keymiya Harrell has yet to practice after having surgery knee surgery this spring. To combat their lack of healthy bodies, the Tigers also moved LaDarius Owens back to end after he had shifted to linebacker during spring practice.

The absences allowed true freshmen Carl Lawson and Elijah Daniel to audition for a possible starting spot, and they have done their part to impress defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, saying the duo already comprises “two of our best pass-rushers.”

Bold prediction: Though Johnson said he would prefer to have his “veterans prepped up to be the starters,” Lawson is on the field at one of the end positions with the first-team defense versus Washington State.

Who holds the edge at middle linebacker?

Kris Frost entered the fall No. 1 on the depth chart, but he didn’t stay there long. Time and again, Johnson said Jake Holland has been the steadier player during practice, and as such, moved him ahead of Frost. Johnson explained the difference between the two on Monday.

“Kris had two or three days where he kind of went backwards, had some missed assignments and some things that were uncharacteristic and shouldn’t have done,” he said. ” … The two legitimate scrimmages that we had, Jake just had more production, had more tackles, more plays, had a pick (and) hasn’t had as many missed tackles.”

That should tell people all they need to know.

Bold prediction: Frost continues to fight the good fight, but Holland is in the starting lineup come game time.

What’s the deal with the secondary?

Much like the defensive line, injuries have taken their toll on the Tigers’ back end. Jonathan Jones will miss the opener (and possibly more) after breaking a bone in his ankle in an off-field mishap. That means the No. 3 corner on the Tigers will come from a trio of first-year players: redshirt freshman T.J. Davis and true freshmen Kamryn Melton and Johnathan Ford, who switched from running back this week.

Demetruce McNeal’s decision-making didn’t help matters, whose arrest last Saturday led to his dismissal and weakened an already-lean unit at safety. Originally a cornerback, Josh Holsey has been at the strong (or boundary) safety position since the end of the spring, when McNeal missed the last five practices for undisclosed personal issues. McNeal then sat out the first 10 practices of camp following an infection that required minor surgery, which forced Holsey to remain at safety. Many thought he would finally move back to corner after McNeal regained his health, but the senior was dismissed before the Tigers ever reached that point. If anything were to happen Holsey or fellow safety Jermaine Whitehead, it would be down to Ryan Smith and quarterback-turned-safety Kiehl Frazier.

Bold prediction: The two former offensive players — Ford and Frazier — see more action on defense than they ever would have imagined one month ago.

August 20, 2013

Auburn football: Former Tigers Demetruce McNeal and Ricky Parks find new schools

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra | Like the blog on Facebook

AUBURN, Ala. — It didn’t take long for Demetruce McNeal to land on his feet.

Former Auburn safety Demetruce McNeal (12) tweeted that he would be transferring to West Alabama on Tuesday. (File photo)

Former Auburn safety Demetruce McNeal (12) tweeted that he would be transferring to West Alabama on Tuesday. (File photo)

The former Auburn safety revealed he has already found a new school after being dismissed from the Tigers on Saturday following an arrest for possession of marijuana earlier that morning. McNeal took to his personal Twitter account Tuesday to announce the news.

“I’m officially transferring to The Univ. of West Alabama to finish up my senior campaign and still keep my dreams alive,” McNeal tweeted.

McNeal was the Tigers’ leading returning tackler, as he collected 90 takedowns last season.

However, he had a string of issues prior to his dismissal, missing the final five practices of the spring for undisclosed personal reasons. The College Park, Ga., native also sat out the first 10 sessions of fall camp after developing an infection that required minor surgery.

Though he’s no longer a member of the program, the senior had kind words for the Tigers as they prepare for the 2013 season.

“I appreciate everything (A)uburn did for me and I wish my former coaches and teammates the best this year,” he tweeted. “(I)t has been fun these past 3 years.”

When reached Tuesday morning, a spokesman at West Alabama said McNeal had “not enrolled yet,” but expected it to be “sooner rather than later” given that the school’s fall semester began on Monday.

Since West Alabama is a Division II program, McNeal can play immediately. The Tigers are the defending champions of the Gulf South Conference and begin the season ranked No. 16 in the American Football Coaches Association NCAA Division II poll.

But McNeal isn’t the only ex-Auburn player settling in at a new school.

Backup tight end Ricky Parks, who was dismissed on Aug. 2 — the first day of Auburn’s fall camp — for what head coach Gus Malzahn called “a violation of team rules,” will play for Northeast Mississippi Community College this year. A spokesman at the school confirmed on Tuesday that Parks was “enrolled and attending class” at the junior college. He began Aug. 8, which marked the first day NEMCC held classes this semester.

Ricky Parks has enrolled at Northeast Mississippi Community College. (File photo)

Ex-Auburn tight end Ricky Parks has enrolled at Northeast Mississippi Community College. (File photo)

The redshirt freshman has also been practicing with the football team, though the school hasn’t released its official 55-man roster at this time. The spokesman said that should take place “within the next few days.”

Parks was expected to contribute for the Tigers at both the tight end and H-back positions this season. He was lauded by the coaching staff during the spring for his improvements after sitting out last year.

Parks exited the spring as part of the Tigers’ two-deep depth chart, settling behind Jay Prosch at H-back for the second-team offense. The Hogansville, Ga., native played at Callaway High School, where he was a four-star prospect in the 2012 class.

VIDEO: Ellis Johnson has seen improvement ‘with past four practices’ after spate of injuries disrupt cohesiveness

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra | Like the blog on Facebook

AUBURN, Ala. — Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson discussed his unit’s injury woes at length in his post-practice interview with reporters Monday night. He also talked about the rotation at defensive end as well as the “sad” way he felt former safety Demetruce McNeal’s career at Auburn ended.

August 17, 2013

UPDATED: Demetruce McNeal arrested on marijuana charges, dismissed from team

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra | Like the blog on Facebook

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn safety Demetruce McNeal was arrested early Saturday morning and charged with second degree possession of marijuana. Head coach Gus Malzahn wasted little time dealing with the matter, dismissing the senior from the team after the two talked Saturday afternoon.

“After visiting with Demetruce, I made the decision to dismiss him from our team,” Malzahn said in an official statement. “We have high expectations both on and off the field for our players.”

Senior safety Demetruce McNeal (12) was reportedly arrested on second degree marijuana charges. (File photo)

Senior safety Demetruce McNeal (12) was arrested on second degree marijuana charges early Saturday morning. Head coach Gus Malzahn dismissed McNeal from the team on Saturday afternoon. (File photo)

Auburn Police Capt. Tom Stofer said police arrested McNeal along with Jawara White and Jonathan Evans, who were linebackers for the Tigers last season. Like McNeal, the pair was charged with possession of marijuana second degree.

The arrests were made at 1:02 a.m. at a residence in the 100 block of East University Drive. The residence is located off of the Auburn University campus, Stofer said.

Stofer said he didn’t know what led to the arrests.

“We must have gotten a complaint out there or something,” he said.

The men were booked into the Lee County Detention Center. According to online records, McNeal posted a $500 bond following the arrest and was then released.

Malzahn said McNeal was not at the Tigers’ practice on Saturday.

McNeal was Auburn’s leading returning tackler, collecting 90 takedowns last season. He returned to practice earlier this week after sitting out the first 11 sessions of the fall following an infection that required minor surgery. He also missed the final five practices of the spring for undisclosed reasons.

— Ben Wright contributed to this report

August 16, 2013

Auburn football odds and ends: Gus Malzahn hopes to have starting QB in place by Monday, Jonathan Wallace progressing at holder

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra | Like the blog on Facebook

AUBURN, Ala. — If everything goes according to plan, Auburn will know who its starting quarterback is by Monday.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn hopes to have a starting quarterback in place by Monday. (Todd Van Emst/Auburn University)

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn hopes to have a starting quarterback in place by Monday. (Todd Van Emst/Auburn University)

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.”

Quick hits

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.

August 13, 2013

Auburn notes: Sammie Coates pleased with own game, Rhett Lashlee praises Marcus Davis and Johnathan Ford

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra | Like the blog on Facebook

AUBURN, Ala. — Sammie Coates has no idea who will become Auburn’s go-to receiver.

It might be him, for all he knows. The only thing he could say for certain is that the Tigers will have a deep pass-catching corps this fall.

“Everybody’s making plays,” he said following Tuesday morning’s practice. “We’ve got a lot of fast wide receivers, so it’s going to be amazing this year.”

After three years at Auburn, redshirt sophomore receiver Sammie Coates says the game has "slowed down for him." (File photo)

After three years at Auburn, redshirt sophomore receiver Sammie Coates says the game has slowed down for him. (File photo)

Coates is just happy to be working in an offense that better suits his game. The pro-style scheme of former offensive coordinator was a bad fit, he said, mixing together about as well as oil and water. But Gus Malzahn’s hurry-up, no-huddle attack is tailor-made for the sophomore,  the system he was originally recruited to play for Auburn.

“That’s all I know is the spread,” he said. “So it made me smile a lot just to go back to it.”

Greater comfort came with the experience Coates has gained over time. The game has slowed down for him, which he feels will only lead to good things this fall and in years to come.

“When I was a freshman, it was kind of hard, because I just had to get used to everything,” Coates said. “As soon as I got used to it, I knew what I’m doing, it’s a whole lot easier.”

It just hasn’t come to fruition in the form of touchdowns during fall camp. That doesn’t bother Coates, who said his sole objective is making “explosive plays.” The touchdowns will follow later.

And not just for him, he said, but the rest of Auburn’s skill players, who he claimed have had no problems adjusting to the lightning-quick tempo at which Malzahn’s offense operates.

“We’re keeping up with what’s going on, we’re getting along with the plays and we’re keeping up with the pace,” Coates said. “Everything’s looking really good.”

Freshmen duo of Davis and Ford catch Lashlee’s attention

When asked which freshmen skill players have stood out so far, it didn’t take long for offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee to come up with a pair of names: wide receiver Marcus Davis and running back Johnathan Ford.

“You can tell that playing quarterback in high school helped him,” Lashlee said of Davis. “The game doesn’t move too fast. He’s got the great attitude. He’s what we wanted, what we thought. He’ll be pushing to get in the mix.”

Coates has already seen it enough during practice.

“(Davis) has been doing an amazing job,” Coates said. “He’s been getting off the ball, he’s real quick and makes good catches.”

Ford, who the coaching staff has already taken to calling “Rudy,” is similar to Corey Grant in many ways, Lashlee said.

“They’re really fast guys,” he said. “Corey is bigger. He’s a junior and has been in college longer. I think Rudy is one of those guys, when he gains 10, 12 pounds over the next year or two, it will really help him. But he can really run. More than anything, there’s no fear.

Quick hits

Demetruce McNeal returned to practice on Monday, which marked the first time he had been healthy enough to take part in fall camp. But fellow defensive back Jonathan Jones wasn’t sure if the senior safety was out there during Tuesday morning’s team activities. “I don’t even know,” he said. “I didn’t see. You have to ask Coach (Malzahn) about him.

August 12, 2013

UPDATED: Gus Malzahn says Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson to split reps ’50-50′ with first-team offense this week

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra | Like the blog on Facebook

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn’s quarterback race saw a major shakeup on Monday.

Auburn's starting quarterback race has eliminated one candidate, as Kiehl Frazier voluntarily decided to move to safety. Head coach Gus Malzahn said Jeremy Johnson and Nick Marshall will split snaps with the first-team offense this week. (Photo by Todd Van Emst)

Auburn’s starting quarterback race has eliminated one candidate, as Kiehl Frazier voluntarily decided to move to safety. Head coach Gus Malzahn said Jeremy Johnson and Nick Marshall will split snaps with the first-team offense this week. (Photo by Todd Van Emst)

Head coach Gus Malzahn announced the practice plan for this week is to split the snaps with the first team “50-50″ between the two newcomers — Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson. Malzahn said he and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee met with Marshall, Johnson, Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace on Sunday to discuss how things would look as fall camp progresses.

“We told them all we feel like (Johnson and Marshall) have earned the right to compete for the job and they’re going to get the majority of reps with our ones this week,” Malzahn said. “That’s not to say that Jonathan Wallace will not be our starter come Day 1, but we are going to give those two new guys a real chance to compete for the job and really show what they can do.”

While Wallace may not have been officially eliminated from winning the job, he won’t receive any snaps with the first-team offense this week. It’s also unlikely that he’ll move to another position, even if he ends up as the third quarterback on the depth chart.

“(He’s) a quarterback,” Malzahn said, “and he’s a good one.”

Frazier, on the other hand, voluntarily removed himself from the competition. During his Sunday sit-down with Malzahn and Lashlee, he proposed switching to safety to “help the team,” Malzahn said. Neither the coach nor the offensive coordinator argued against the move.

According to Malzahn, the transition to defense will be a permanent one for the former USA Today National Offensive Player of the Year.

“He’s going to be full-time safety,” Malzahn said. ”He can still do some things on offense, but he’s putting his energy into safety.”

With Wallace relegated to the background and Frazier no longer a factor, Malzahn noted Marshall and Johnson began to distance themselves the moment fall camp began, showing signs of improvement every practice.

“Both of them have extremely live arms,” he said. “They both can run and both of them are athletic. It’s just a matter of how quick they can get acclimated. We’re still looking for a couple of different situations to see how they react and see how their teammates react.”

Johnson’s inexperience hasn’t been a hindrance to him yet, and Malzahn doesn’t see that changing any time soon.

“Whoever gives us the best chance of winning and being successful will be our quarterback,” he said. “Obviously, it’s tough for a true freshman in this league, but if he’s the best and we believe he gives us the best chance of winning, he’ll be our quarterback.”

The reps with the first-team offense will be divided as equally as possible, Malzahn said, with the coaching staff keeping tabs on their decision-making every play.

“We’re trying to put those two guys with our main group as much as we can this week to see how they respond and really, to see how their teammates respond to them,” he said. “See who can move the ball, see who can protect the football and do the things it takes to be successful and to win.”

The Tigers will hold another scrimmage Tuesday, but the quarterbacks won’t be “live,” meaning they are not allowed to be tackled. The lack of contact will have no effect on the evaluation of the signal-callers, Malzahn said.

Despite the streamlining of snaps at the position, Malzahn refused to settle on a date for naming the starter.

“Obviously, we’d like to name something sooner rather than later, but that’s just the plan for this week,” he said. “That’s not to say we’re going to name somebody at the end of this week.”

Notes

Demetruce McNeal practiced on Monday, the first time he has took part in team activities since fall camp began. Malzahn said the senior safety was required to complete two acclimation periods (comprising Monday and Tuesday) before he can don full pads. “He was out there practicing today and looking good,” Malzahn said. … Hybrid safety/linebacker Justin Garrett’s left foot injury continues to improve, and he’s expected to be back at practice soon. “It’s day to day right now,” Malzahn said, “but it’s nothing to get too worked up about.” … Malzahn confirmed that wide receiver Tony Stevens returned to the field on Monday. The true freshman was battling a hamstring injury last week that forced him to miss the Tigers’ scrimmage on Saturday.