Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Post-practice Wednesday notes

Chris Todd, Kodi Burns and Neil Caudle went back to work a day after Auburn’s first scrimmage with no idea how it affected the quarterback race.

Auburn coach Gene Chizik said there is still nothing to report, but did set a new goal of being closer to a decision by Saturday.

“Obviously we’re working every day to use great discernment on what we’re going to do rep-wise,” Chizik said Wednesday. “Hopefully by Saturday we’ll have something where we know who to give more reps to than the others. So that’s the goal.”

Chizik also said the Tigers plan to hold their next scrimmage on Saturday.

The three quarterbacks seem like they would all favor that decision. The trio played two series apiece. All of them said it made getting into a rhythm difficult.

With Todd, Burns and Caudle splitting reps, the first-team offense failed to reach the end zone. Burns led the offense on a drive that resulted in a field goal, but that was the only scoring.

Caudle’s two drives resulted in a three-and-out and a long drive ending in an interception.
He still thinks he’s done enough to warrant the starting spot.

“I think so. I still haven’t been as happy as I’d like to be with how I’ve been playing,” Caudle said. “I know the offense great now. There shouldn’t be any mistakes out there. There’s still a bad read here and there but I’ll get it corrected.”

Burns didn’t want to take a stance on if he has earned the spot, but did say he thinks he’s been “pretty solid” through the first week of fall camp.

The longer the competition drags on, though, the more Gus Malzahn gets to see from Chris Todd, who missed spring practice.

“Obviously, the more he can see me throw, the more he can see anybody throw is going to be better,” Todd said. “I try to improve every day with stuff I’ve been doing, and they try to do the same thing. So I think it’s a plus for everybody. The more he can see you throw, the more he can see you do.”

Though nobody has implicitly said Tyrik Rollison is out of the quarterback competition, the true freshman has not worked with the first-team offense for at least the last two days.

YOUTH MOVEMENT: Entering fall camp, receivers coach Trooper Taylor understood he would probably need to play freshmen during the season.

However, he didn’t expect to play four of them. Yet after Tuesday’s scrimmage, Taylor thinks that’s a realistic possibility.

“I’m really proud of them,” Taylor said. “They got a short window to demonstrate what they can do and they took it to heart. I think that’s what’s been a big deal: The speed of the game has not shocked these fellows.

“It will be hard to redshirt those freshmen.”

Taylor went on to say he would consider giving a redshirt to someone who has already played a season. Only two non-freshman receivers – Darvin Adams and Derek Winter – have redshirt eligibility. Taylor has spent much of the spring and fall bragging about Adams.

It’s no surprise that DeAngelo "Voodoo" Benton and Emory Blake will likely factor prominently in the offense this season. It is somewhat surprising that Anthony Gulley and Travante Stallworth are expected to play immediately.

Both of them impressed Taylor during the scrimmage. Taylor said Gulley made a 50- or 60-yard run during the scrimmage.

Taylor also likes Stallworth’s versatility.

“He made some guys miss that looked like they couldn’t tackle him in a phone booth,” Taylor said. “He’s got that kind of quickness.

"Stallworth, the way he handles things, when you say something in a meeting, he writes a note about everything. He’s meticulous about his alignment. You can line him up in so many different places. He can play quarterback, he can play wide receiver, he can run reverses, he can do so many things and that’s what he brings to the table – versatility and being able to make plays."

While the news is good for the four true freshmen, it’s not as pleasant for Quindarius Carr. Taylor hardly had rave reviews for the sophomore.

“The thing that keeps Q on the field is that he can play every position,” Taylor said.

COMEBACK TRAIL: One receiver is aiming for a fresh start in a few days while another awaits word on his situation.

Taylor said Philip Pierre-Louis would return to the team when school starts on Monday. He also said Pierre-Louis would have an opportunity to put himself in the mix for playing time once he returns.

Meanwhile, Montez Billings has returned to practice, but coaches don’t know how much – if any – he will miss.

“Right now we’re still kind of working through some of those issues,” Chizik said. “He’s practicing as if he is going to be able to play. Right now we’re going to be looking through those issues and we’ll know more soon.”

SLADE IMPRESSES: With Mike McNeil still out, Drew Cole and Mike Slade are competing for the starting free safety spot.

Tuesday, Slade continued his charge in the competition.

“We keep saying Slade is one of the most improved players we’ve had since the springtime,” safeties coach Tommy Thigpen said. “He did a real good job.”

Thigpen also said Cole was solid and that the competition changes on a day-to-day basis.

However, neither of the two were the safety that stood out most to Thigpen on Tuesday. That distinction goes to Daren Bates.

Thigpen said the true freshman led the team in tackles, had the most big plays, caused a fumble and had an interception.

“If he does what he did yesterday, you can’t keep a guy like that off the field,” Thigpen said. “He made a bunch of plays yesterday for a guy that didn’t know anything about what he was doing. He was out there flying around and he was just hitting and moving balls.”

The other surprise on the defensive side is a potential starter at defensive tackle.

Jake Ricks, who is a projected starter at one spot, said JUCO transfer Nick Fairley has taken the first-team reps.

Fairley has benefited in the competition from another contender, Mike Blanc, working through injuries.

No comments: