Monday, July 27, 2009

WRs overview

Among the biggest questions surrounding Auburn’s program right now, “Who’s going to catch passes?” ranks behind only who will start at quarterback.

The question isn’t talent. The Tigers have plenty of that. Ask receivers coach Trooper Taylor what he thinks about potential, though. “Like I tell all these guys: That’s the worst thing someone can say about you because it means you haven’t done it yet,” Taylor said.

With Montez Billings’ status in question, there’s not a proven commodity Auburn knows it can count on when the Tigers open on Sept. 5.

Of all the positions, receiver is the one where a player Auburn fans aren’t necessarily accustomed to watching needs to emerge from obscurity.

As for the tight end/H-back positions, Auburn knows Mario Fannin will be counted on to carry a hefty load out of the backfield. The tight end position, though, isn’t yet clear.


2 – Terrell Zachery, Jr.
Quindarius Carr, So.
Travante Stallworth, Fr.
Philip Pierre-Louis, So.
Anthony Gulley, Fr.

5 – Darvin Adams, So.
Tommy Trott, Sr.
Derek Winter, So.

9 – DeAngelo “Voodoo” Benton, Fr.
Emory Blake, Fr.


Tim Hawthorne, Jr. (leg injury)
Montez Billings, Sr. (unspecified academics)


Mario Fannin, Jr.
John Douglas, So.


Gabe McKenzie, Sr.
Bailey Woods, So.
Philip Lutzenkirchen, Fr.


Tim Hawthorne, Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery were atop the depth chart when spring practice concluded. Before Hawthorne suffered an injury to his ankle, Taylor said they would start there when two-a-days opened. With Hawthorne out, look for an open competition at the other receiver spot.

Billings will play a big role in the offense – and could start – if he can get his academic situation cleared up. Gene Chizik said last week that Billings would play this season. The question is when. He will open fall camp with the Tigers.

The positions have different roles and each player is seemingly getting coached at the spots one at a time. As it has been explained to me, the 2-position is a slot-type receiver in that he’s lined up close to the line. Sometimes, though, he is the outside receiver in that nobody flanks him. This is the spot that will receive numerous reverses. The 5-position is an outside receiver that sometimes moves inside if he’s on the same side as the 9-position. The 9 seems to be a true flanker.

With Hawthorne out and Billings unclear, don’t be surprised to see Voodoo Benton and Emory Blake engage in a two-man battle for a starting spot.

Tommy Trott and Philip Pierre-Louis migh have put themselves behind the 8-ball this spring because of missing practices while recovering from injuries. Taylor was not amused that they missed practices and even fired off a few barbs at them, including “You can’t make the club from the tub.” Trott represented Auburn at SEC Media Days though, so he must be in Chizik’s good graces.

Quindarius Carr often looks smooth in practices, but has yet to translate that into game production. Taylor likes Carr's tools, but wants to see him gain additional toughness.

At H-back, Mario Fannin will start. If Auburn’s offense is working, he will probably have to touch the ball at least 10 times a game – regardless of how he gets it. The more Fannin touches the ball, the better Gus Malzahn’s offense will run. (That's a pretty sturdy limb I found to climb onto).

John Douglas impressed tight ends coach Jay Boulware during the spring. He is more of a true fullback and could be used in short-yardage situations.

Gabe McKenzie missed spring while working through medical issues. He should battle with true freshman Philip Lutzenkirchen for the starting tight end spot.


Taylor on newcomers getting a chance early in fall camp: “Here’s what I told the (returning) guys that were here: Their time was this spring. When these freshmen come in, they’ll get more reps than the guys that were here already because that’s the only way we’ll find out. The guys that were here got 15 days in the spring. The freshmen get 10 in two-a-days to get it done.”

Taylor on why Zachery and Adams emerged to the top of the depth chart: “Those two guys, if you’re looking for tough and you’re looking for physical, I’d take those two every day of the week and twice on Sunday. I was really, really proud of those two guys coming out of the spring.”

Taylor on missing practices with injuries: “If it was up to me, I’d put them in pink jerseys. I wouldn’t give them an off-color jersey to protect them. I’d put them in pink because I can’t stand that. They’d have to shoot me to keep me out from practicing with my teammates. I want to see guys push through it to be out there. To me it’s just a big deal.
“One thing you can’t do is sugarcoat because life’s not that way. If you want them to carry themselves a certain way – if you want them to understand expectations – you’ve got to tell them and show them.”

Zachery on Blake and Benton: “I consider Benton not even a freshman anymore. He’s been here a while, so he kind of has an understanding of everything. But Benton is probably looking the best of anybody, but Blake is looking good too.”

CB Walt McFadden on Benton: “He's going to be a great receiver. He’s still learning the offense. He’s probably got 70 percent of the offense down. Montez is really pulling him along because we’re going to need him. Trust me. I think we’re going to see some big plays out of him.”

S Zac Etheridge on Benton: “I’ve seen some things from Benton that I’m impressed about him. He can get out of his breaks and he has soft hands. I think Benton will make a big impact on this receiver corps this year.”

Etheridge on Blake: “He seems like he’s catching on with the offense and what they’re trying to do. Believe it or not, I haven’t seen him drop a ball yet. I’ve seen a little burst when he gets the ball. He knows what to do and he gets up the field. He’s outstanding for me.”

Zachery on his first years at Auburn: “I feel like I haven’t had a chance to show all of my abilities, show everything I can do. But I feel like I can do that this year.”

Zachery on living up to expectations: “I don’t feel like we really have, but I know we’re a lot better than what people think we are. And that’s one thing that we’re going to this year: we’re going to prove it.”

McFadden on Lutzenkirchen: “He’s doing good. He’s out there running his routes well. He’s asking a whole bunch of questions. He’s doing a lot of things that you wouldn’t expect a freshman to do.”

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