Auburn coach Gene Chizik visited Robertsdale Tuesday with at least one clear objective: tempering expectations of a fanbase known for going overboard.
Here's what Chizik said in Robertsdale, as reported The Mobile Press-Register's Mike Herndon:
"I don't want to paint a picture of doom and gloom, but I also don't want to paint a picture of delusions of grandeur. We're going to have to take some baby steps and we've got our work cut out for us. Offensively right now, we've got to find a quarterback, we've got to get more physical and we've got to get very consistent with what we try to do. Were we that in the spring? Sometimes."
That's not the most troubling part. That distinction belongs to Chizik's thought that the quarterback competition could last until late in August. Here's what he said on the topic.
"The position has not been won; that's the main point of emphasis. We've got some young guys who will come in and challenge for the job. Certainly the ones who have been on campus have an advantage of 15 days anyway, but the quarterback situation probably won't be solved until right before the season starts."
As 30 Rock characters Tracy Jordan and Liz Lemon would say, "TWIST!" (Side note: I looked for 20 minutes for a clip of the episode I'm referencing. Couldn't find it. Hulu, you have failed me.)
Keep in mind this flies in direct conflict with what offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said the last time we spoke to him.
Kodi Burns and Neil Caudle finished the spring as the top two performers. Barrett Trotter, who was also in the mix, suffered a significant setback with his ACL injury and might not be ready for the season.
Malzahn said Chris Todd, who sat out all spring while recovering from shoulder surgery, would get an opportunity to compete for the job but would have to move quickly to have a chance. So, too, would incoming freshman Clint Moseley. Fellow freshman Tyrik Rollison would also get an opportunity, but still needs to qualify academically.
Regardless of who is in the race, Malzahn said he didn't want the competition dragging into the season as it did last year.
"You definitely don’t want that scenario. In fairness to the guys we’re going to have to name a guy as soon as possible as you can so you can let your teammates know and go into that first game. I would really hope it wouldn’t be late in the process."
Here's the other situation to monitor: Chizik said WR Montez Billings sat out the spring with academic issue(s). My first thought was the Brad Lester situation in 2007.
Billings graduated from Auburn last weekend.
My question is simple: If Billings' academic standing was at all in question, wouldn't the university have prevented him from graduating last week?
I frankly have no idea what to make of the situation. What I do know is Trooper Taylor told me last week that he doesn't count on Billings contributing to the team this fall. He said that could change any day, but right now he is going about his business as if Billings will not play.
Stay tuned for some important clarifications just as soon as we get them...
(Don't hold your breath.)