Friday, September 18, 2009

Cleaning out the notebook

The newest rage at Auburn football games has nothing to do with Tigers or foam hands.

Instead, Trooper Towels have swept through Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The towels, inspired by Trooper Taylor’s energetic sideline show, started making their way around the stadium last weekend.

Taylor said a group of students – Daniel Dreher, Rob Silverii and Hunter Harris – called him beforehand and asked for permission. At the time, Taylor thought that meant five or six fans would copy his actions on the sideline.

Instead, the white towels had the words “Trooper Towel” written on them.

“I didn’t know they were actually going to print up towels and actually sell the, but it was flattering and I think my children were more impressed than anything,” Taylor said. “They had it up on the Jumbotron, they said, and some people were trying to get them to me to autograph.

“The guys are really nice guys. They’re students. I tip my hat to them that, No. 1 they were trying to do something different and No. 2 they were trying to get the student body involved. That’s kind of the thing we’ve been doing. We’ve been trying to make sure we show the fans appreciation for coming and make sure they feel a part and we give them something to cheer about and feel proud to be an Auburn Tiger.”

Taylor is not receiving a cut of the profits, but has asked the innovators to donate a percentage of the proceeds to a charity yet to be determined.

“We thought of the idea at the first game when we saw coach (Taylor) waving his towel on the sidelines,” Dreher said through e-mail. “We think the Trooper Towel is another unique way to add to the Auburn Family and support the team and coaching staff. We will be donating a portion of the earnings to a charity of coach (Taylor’s) choice.”

FRESHMEN PAYING DUES: Throughout the preseason, Taylor talked about the impression he expected true freshmen WRs Emory Blake and DeAngelo Benton to make on the offense.

Two weeks into the season, neither has recorded a reception.

Part of the reason has been the performances of starters Terrell Zachery and Darvin Adams. Those two have paid their dues and, now that they have gotten their opportunities, have made the most of them early in the 2009 season.

As Zachery and Adams make more plays, Blake and Benton seem less likely to see the field.

“They’ll be involved when they earn it. They’ve got to make plays,” Taylor said. “That’s pretty simple. Right now, two guys are making plays and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Those two guys have really stood out. I think Darvin and T-Zach have really earned what they’re getting. Until something changes in practice or one of those guys goes down or doesn’t make plays, then they will.”

Adams has caught nine passes for 181 yards and a touchdown so far this year and is coming off a 116-yard performance. Zachery has five receptions for 139 yards and a score.

Taylor said another reason they haven’t played as much as expected is because of Kodi Burns’ “smooth transition” to the receiver position. He doesn’t run as a true receiver all the time, but because Auburn prefers to move swiftly into the Wildcat formation, the staff prefers to keep him on the field.

Benton, also, is expected to contribute more than he did last week. Taylor said Benton missed a good portion of practice before the Mississippi State game because of a death in the family.

DEFENDING BROWN: West Virginia QB Jarrett Brown poses several problems for opposing defenses.

The senior has proven capable of hurting opposing defenses with his throwing arm as well as his scrambling ability.

Brown’s abilities have certainly caught Auburn defensive line coach Tracy Rocker’s attention.

“The thing is you see this guy throw people off him,” Rocker said. “The football doesn’t look like it’s college-sized. It looks like a little miniature ball in his hands. He’s so strong, he’s slinging people off and the thing you see is he can run. We’ve got a big challenge there.

“I definitely respect his play. You see people putting pressure and they look like they’re about to sack him and he goes. First down.

“It’s going to be important for us up front. Our four guys against their five. The most important thing is going to be tackling – tackling and playing fast.”

Rocker isn’t the only coach concerned with Brown’s versatile nature.

Cornerbacks coach Phillip Lolley knows his ability to run or throw makes it difficult for his players if Brown gets out of the pocket.

“A quarterback like him causes a lot of problems because when he decides to scramble or come out of the pocket, then you’ve got a tough situation,” Lolley said. “You got a lot of questions during a ball game: Zone versus man. Do you play the quarterback in this situation? He causes a lot of problems.”

BLANC CHECK: Mike Blanc barely played during Auburn’s season opener against Louisiana Tech.

That changed last week when the junior started alongside Jake Ricks. Blanc finished with four tackles and a pair of quarterback hurries.

Rocker said Wednesday that Blanc is still ahead of Nick Fairley, who started in Week 1.

However, Rocker does want to get Fairley more snaps than the JUCO transfer saw last week.

HOT TOPIC: DE Antoine "Hot" Carter is nearing a return to the lineup, but Rocker stopped short of saying he would return this weekend.

“He’s getting back, he’s moving a lot, he’s getting more reps in practice,” Rocker said. “So I feel comfortable about him feeling good about himself. The biggest thing we’re trying to do is getting him back in cardio, cardio shape. And working out the nervous things about when you’re playing on that knee.”

Carter tried to go through part of preseason practice with the knee injury, but missed the first two games with the injury.

Rocker said he wants Carter’s knee to be full strength when he returns.

When Carter does come back, Rocker said he thinks the junior could make a significant contribution.

“I’m looking at him, I’m hoping that he comes in and hopefully he can pursue to be an every-down guy,” Rocker said. “That’s the deal. It all depends on how everything holds up and the mental thing of taking on blocks and the banging and the practicing. It’s going to be a challenge but yeah, I’m hoping as we get on down in the thick of the season he can help us win.”

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