Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday notebook

Against Tennessee, Auburn seemed to take a step forward in special teams play. Saturday, the Tigers took several steps back, especially on kickoff coverage.

Arkansas returner Dennis Johnson returned three kicks for 145 yards – an average of 48 yards per try. The total included returns of 50 and 70 yards.

“The 70-yard one, the long one that put us in a bind when we were trying to come back, that was missed tackles,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. “You’ve got three or four guys sitting there.”

Special teams coach Jay Boulware said a couple weeks ago part of the problem is personnel. Auburn tries to spare its starters from the extra snaps because of the depth concerns at numerous positions.

Chizik agreed that has become an issue on special teams.

“This is where we’re starting to see our depth issues creep up on us,” Chizik said. “You want your best guys on those cover teams and there’s no question about it, but where we are right now, we’ve got some starters on it and some that aren’t on it. The bottom line is at some positions if we lose that starter, there’s such a drop-off to the next guy that we’re playing a lot of young guys.

“We’re going to have to have some different answers.”

COMING ALONG: CB Walt McFadden’s status was no clearer Sunday than it was when he checked out of Saturday’s game with a leg injury.

The senior hobbled to the sideline and directly to the trainer’s table after intercepting a second-quarter pass. He did not return, but watched the game from the sideline.

Chizik offered only his generic “day by day” prognosis when asked about McFadden’s injury and likelihood of playing Saturday against Kentucky.

If McFadden can’t play, CB Demond Washington is a potential replacement. The junior college transfer split series with Harry Adams after McFadden left the game.

Sunday, Chizik gave Adams less than stellar marks, saying he played “average at best.”

He did think Washington played well in McFadden’s absence.

“Demond’s got a chance to be a really good football player here the more he plays at this level,” Chizik said. “I think he’s going to be – he’s going to get better and better every week. Really and truly, to this point, he has gotten better every week.”

BLUE BLOOD: QB Chris Todd was a Kentucky fan growing up in the Bluegrass State.

The Auburn starter will get his first chance to play against the Wildcats Saturday.

“Most of the games we went to in college were Kentucky,” Todd said. “I watched them a lot when Hal Mumme was there and Tim Couch played for them. I remember growing up watching a lot of Kentucky football.”

Todd said he would also see several acquaintances when the two teams square off.

“I’ve got some buddies who play for Kentucky,” he said. “Some guys I played high-school ball with, some guys who played for rival schools. It’s always fun to go back and play against them.”

SO HART-LESS: When Auburn faces Kentucky on Saturday, the Wildcats will almost certainly be breaking in a new quarterback.

Starter Mike Hartline suffered what the Associated Press reported as “a severe MCL injury” Saturday against South Carolina. Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said in various reports Sunday that he doesn’t think Hartline’s situation is good news.

With Hartline likely to sit out this week, Kentucky will turn to either junior Will Fidler or true freshman Morgan Newton. So far Newton has not played this season. He would burn his redshirt to play.

Star WR Randall Cobb could also see extensive time as a triggerman from the Wildcat formation.

No comments: