Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Late notes from a busy Tuesday

First, here's a look at my story for tomorrow:

Gene Chizik realizes his era at Auburn begins with several questions. Come Saturday, the questions will either have solid answers or officially become problems.

Among the questions, the Tigers have 10-12 true freshmen expected to play significant time. They have new coordinators on both sides of the ball. There’s also the head coach starting the season with a career 5-19 record and a personal 10-game losing streak.

“It’s one of those first games where you get a lot of questions answered,” Chizik said. “We are going to have a starting point and that’s the bottom line. Whether it’s going to be good, bad, or ugly, we have a starting point, and our goal is to get better every week. I don’t know what people read into or what they want but we are excited about getting started and figuring out where we are.”


For more, read tomorrow's Anniston Star.

QB Chris Todd choked up a little when asked about Alabama defensive end Brandon Deaderick, who was shot and injured late Thursday night.

The two played high school football together at Elizabethtown (Ky.) High School and graduated in the same class.

“I’m good friends with him and when I go back home, we hang out a lot,” Todd said. “We graduated together and stuff like that.”

Todd said he talked to Deaderick’s mother on Wednesday and felt confident his friend would be OK.

“It was very unfortunate but I was talking to his mom, she was very thankful and I’m thankful that he’s OK because that situation could have come out a lot worse,” Todd said. “It’s crazy how stuff like that works out.”

BREAKING THEM IN: Newcomers flooded Auburn’s depth chart, which was released Tuesday morning.

Of note, true freshman safety Daren Bates will start, as will JUCO transfer Eltoro Freeman.

The two-deep at linebacker appears more troubling for the Tigers. A pair of true freshmen – Jonathan Evans and Harris Gaston – and sophomore Adam Herring, who missed the better part of eight months, are listed as primary backups.

Because of their inexperience, defensive coordinator Ted Roof said he has developed a plan to get them early playing time. He’s hoping that will prevent them from getting their first taste at the collegiate level during deciding moments.

“We’ve got several different groupings and there’s a plan to do it,” Roof said. “We’re expecting to have to win this thing on the last drive, in the fourth quarter.

“We want to make sure we have our best players fresh in the fourth quarter. Sometimes the situations dictate that too – you have to play people in the right situations with the right other people. We don’t want to wholesale substitute, we want to make sure we do it a little bit at a time. That’s our plan right now.”

GETTING READY: Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn described redshirting true freshman quarterback Tyrik Rollison the “best-case scenario.”

Rollison competed with Neil Caudle for the backup position until Friday, when Chizik announced Caudle won the position.

Now Malzahn hopes to get more time to season Rollison and allow him to learn the system better.

“We ask a lot of our quarterbacks,” Malzahn said. “You can tell each day he gets more and more comfortable with what we ask him to do. Everybody knows he’s physically talented. It’s just a matter of trying our best to get him ready.”

QUICK OUT: Chizik said defensive end Antoine Carter would not play on Saturday. He did not say if Carter had an injury.

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