Thursday, August 6, 2009

Notes from Thursday's practice

Gus Malzahn stood by the quarterback competition statement all along Wednesday when he said he would like to decide “as soon as we possibly can.”

He’s committed to giving the freshmen a chance at least early in camp.

Tyrik Rollison got most of the freshman reps on Wednesday. Malzahn said he liked what he saw in the highly touted prospect on the first day.

“Tyrik at times made some really solid throws and he’s got a very live arm and pretty good footwork,” Malzahn said Wednesday.

Ultimately, Malzahn said, the freshmen must catch up to stay in the race.

“The second week should separate people,” he said.

Malzahn wants to dwindle the competition – currently at five players – down to two quickly. He said before camp broke that Kodi Burns and Neil Caudle would have an early lead. They’re trying to hold off Chris Todd, Rollison and Clint Moseley.

If Malzahn has his way, he’ll find his top two quickly.

“We’re a timing offense, I’ve said that before, and as soon as we can identify a guy that can start working with receivers that are going to be on the field, the better we’ll get,” he said.

WILDCAT EXPEDITION: Freshmen Dontae Aycock, Emory Blake and Travante Stallworth are three of the first players getting a look in the Wildcat formation.

That, Malzahn said, will likely be the only quarterback in-game quarterback switching this season.

“We’ll have a Wildcat guy and a regular quarterback,” Malzahn said Wednesday. “We’d like to have one and we believe in sticking with that guy and getting better and developing.”

H-back Mario Fannin took snaps as the Wildcat quarterback last year during the one game Auburn attempted to implement the formation.

Malzahn promised during the spring that his offense would include the Wildcat. He’s hoping to find his triggerman soon.

“That’ll be really quick. We’re starting to do some individual on it,” he said. “We didn’t do any of it in the spring, but it’s time.”

CONTINUED SPLIT: Auburn coach Gene Chizik said he has never tried splitting practice the way he currently does.

The experiment, he said, has no definitive beginning or end.

“It’s really an investigation,” Chizik said. “We’re trying to investigate who can do what and it’s just hard to do it since we have our whole team out there at once. So until we feel good about where we’re at in terms of finding guys that can fit positions, we’ll continue to do that.”

Cornerback Demond Washington and receiver DeAngelo Benton both worked with the first and second groups on Thursday.

“Some of the young guys just need a few extra reps, and attention rate and things of that nature and learning something from the day before and they have to have more carryover for the next day,” Chizik said. “So a couple of guys got some extra reps and we’ll continue to do that too.”

Chizik did say the team would practice in shells when the Tigers practice Friday evening. He said he didn’t know when the team would start practicing in full pads.

BLANC ‘FINE’: Defensive tackle Mike Blanc, a possible starter, watched Thursday’s practice with his left wrist and hand in a wrap. He was wearing a jersey and a helmet, but did not participate in the warm-ups or practice.

Chizik said not to look too much into the injury.

“He’s fine,” Chizik said.

BATES NEARING CLEARANCE?: reported Thursday that the Clearinghouse cleared freshman safety Daren Bates.

Chizik did not confirm the report after Thursday’s practice, but seemed optimistic.

“We’re very hopeful right now that he’s going to clear and be here very soon,” Chizik said. “Until he gets here, he’s not here, but we’re very encouraged right now.”

PLAYING FAST: Linebacker Josh Bynes provided an interesting contrast between current defensive coordinator Ted Roof and former coordinator (and current Iowa State coach) Paul Rhoads.

"Roof is the type of guy who will let us go full speed," he said. "If you miss, at least you miss full speed.

"Rhoads was the type who wanted us to break down and make sure we make the proper tackle. But at the same time, if you’re running full speed, you can make the other man stop his feel and everybody else is coming. It’s going to seem like 12-13 guys at the ball.

"As far as breaking down, it just kind of messes us up a lot. Especially with (Will) Muschamp my freshman year. He was the type, the same as Roof, like to fly and like to run full speed. And if we miss, we miss full speed, at least we’re not slowing down and stopping our feet.

"(Rhoads) wanted us to breakdown and make tackles. Whereas Roof wants to fly. You’re full speed, at least you’re full speed running. If you miss and run full speed, rather than going slow and breaking down to it."

Bynes said Roof's system is more fun. He also later described Rhoads as "cautious."

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