Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Notes from Tuesday's practice

Kodi Burns isn’t spending time worrying about what he can’t control.
That means Burns, who was in this spot last year as well, finds himself taking Auburn’s three-man quarterback competition a day at a time.
After battling for the starting position for over a year now, Burns is no longer fazed by the questions that come along with a position battle.
“I’m used to it now,” Burns said before Tuesday’s practice. “It’s the way college life is in the football realm of things. I’m a veteran at this now. It’s not that bad.”
Burns started seven games last year, but nothing is settled through more than half of spring practice.
Previously it was believed that Neil Caudle and Burns were splitting reps with the first-team offense. Now it appears redshirt freshman Barrett Trotter is in the mix as well.
All three have gotten equal reps with the first-team offense over the past few practices, including during Saturday’s scrimmage.
Burns and Caudle both threw touchdowns during the first scrimmage. Caudle threw the game’s only interception.
Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has maintained that he would not put a timetable on naming a starter. That means all three must stay on their game until there is resolution.
“Coach Malzahn has said that when one of us starts to play better than the others, then he’ll decide,” Caudle said.
Auburn coaches decided to allow the quarterbacks to go live during the first scrimmage. Malzahn and Auburn coach Gene Chizik said they want to see how the quarterbacks react to the full-contact action.
Previously, that move has not proven wise for the Tigers. DeRon Furr injured his shoulder during last year’s spring practice. Caudle injured his shoulder during a fall scrimmage in 2007.
Still, Caudle agreed with the decision that allows defenders to hit quarterbacks at select times.
“It makes sense to me,” he said. “You’ve got to see if the quarterback can withstand pressure and how he reacts with a live rush and how physical he is. I think it’s a good thing. I think that if you go out with the right attitude, it’s going to help you out.”
None of the three quarterbacks said they have any idea where they stood in the competition.
If Burns is correct, impressing Malzahn enough to name a starter could prove very difficult.
“We have to take him seriously,” Burns said. “We’ve got to try to do everything we can to make everything we’re doing wrong right. He really wants perfection. It’s really hard to please him, but that’s what you’ve got to try to do.”
Burns must do that and not worry about what he can’t control.

DYE SPEAKS TO TEAM: Former Auburn coach Pat Dye spoke to the team before Tuesday’s practice at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Dye addressed the team for approximately 15 minutes, touching on several topics including Auburn’s two undefeated seasons, in 1993 and 2004. Dye who won 99 games and four SEC titles during his 12 seasons at Auburn,
“It was just great to have him out at practice, No. 1,” Chizik said. “Those young guys, that’s kind of an eye-opener for them – having a legend like that coming in there and talked to them.
“He just talked about what it’s like to be an Auburn man – what it’s like to be an Auburn student, what it’s like to be an Auburn football player and at the end of the day, what it’ll mean to them down the road being an Auburn alumni. I thought it was a really neat message.”
Chizik said he aimed to give Tuesday’s practice a pre-game atmosphere to energize his team. That could explain both the decision to work at Jordan-Hare Stadium and the invitation to Dye.
Running backs coach Curtis Luper said Dye is around the football offices “a bunch.”
“I’m locked into every single word he says, because there’s so much wisdom in his words,” Luper said. “He’s experienced a lot.”

COMING BACK: The early prognosis on defensive end Antoine Carter’s injured right knee is that it won’t keep him away from the field for long.
Carter was carted off the field during Sunday’s practice.
“…He’s doing well,” Chizik said Tuesday. “He’s going to be fine.”
Chizik said Carter’s return to spring practice depends largely on the trainers’ decisions.
In the meantime, Auburn has just three healthy scholarship defensive ends – Antonio Coleman, Michael Goggans and redshirt freshman Cameron Henderson.
Zach Clayton has also played end, but has focused on tackle this spring.
Chizik said there are no plans to move anyone to defensive end.
“We haven’t gotten that far simply because we don’t think that’s the issue,” Chizik said. “Antoine is going to be fine.”

EARNING PRAISE: Defensive tackle Jake Ricks thought he was on his way to a starting position at this time last year.
Instead, he found himself at the bottom of the depth chart by midseason.
Tuesday, Coleman said Ricks has been the most improved player through the first half of Auburn’s spring practice.
“He’s having a great spring,” Coleman said. “I’ve seen a lot of things out of him that I didn’t know he had in him. He’s stepping up big time and making plays that I’ve never seen from him before.”
Auburn lost both starters at defensive tackle. Tez Doolittle exhausted his eligibility and Sen’Derrick Marks declared for the NFL Draft.
Coleman thinks that has benefited Ricks.
“He’s not in anyone’s shadow any more and he understands that this is his senior year and he needs to step up and make plays,” Coleman said. “Everyone’s counting on him to get out there and make plays for us.”

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