War Eagle Extra has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 4 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Monday, August 10, 2009

More extensive notes: WR Zachery impresses

All right, I've had a chance to go through interviews to get some specific quotes to go with some of those previous notes. Here's what this morning's group of interviews had to say ...
  • Based on Trooper Taylor's assessment of the receivers, Terrell Zachery sounds like the best of the group. "And I'll tell you what he's done, he's changed his body, guys. In my opinion, he weighed too much. He's lost some weight and really looks good and can run. He's really back to the speed and quickness that you need to have to play the position that we're asking him to play. I tell him, you have to run until your food dies. That's the kind of shape we're looking for him to be in. He wasn't used to that. He just wanted to play and come out. I'm not in the rotation system. I want the best players out there, that's who I want out there on the field."
  • Taylor also singled out Darvin Adams in his top-three and, surprisingly, Montez Billings, who still has an academic hurdle to clear before the season starts, although he still has some work to do. "He's just got to be consistent about it and this day and the next day," Taylor said. "That's what he's got to learn. And he's got to be unselfish. I don't play with dirt kickers. And what I mean by that is if you don't get the ball, I don't need your arms flailing, I don't need you kicking the ground. I need you cheering for your teammates and I need you blocking for the running backs. I need you making plays. If he becomes a complete player, you'll see him out there more. If he thinks we're going to lower the bar, that's not going to happen. He's going to have to raise himself to that. And he will or he won't play."
  • Taylor said DeAngelo Benton and Emory Blake are making progress but still adjusting to the speed of the game. He had good things to say about Blake especially. "If you tell him to take a six-inch step, he's going to give it to you," Taylor said. "I'm sure that's part of his upbringing and the coaching that he had, but also his father being a quarterback. He understands windows, he understands tempo. That gives him a chance." Trooper said he's still interested in seeing how Blake handles getting hit in the full contact periods. "I like to tell the defense, slant's coming, and throw it to him," he said. "And then see what he does. And if he's able to do that, then he can show that he can play."
  • Blake seemed like a very well-spoken player for a freshman. Here's his take on why he's so precise with his routes: "There's no room for error with these coaches. In high school, I'd run a bubble route and we'd round it off. They want it flat here. Every time they notice, when the route is off just a little bit, they'll let me know. There's no room for error."
  • Blake, whose father Jeff was an NFL quarterback, most famously for the Bengals, has done some work as a Wildcat quarterback. But he's regular quarterback wasn't his thing. "I never wanted to play quarterback," he said. "That's from Day One. When I was 6 years old, people would ask me. I'd tell them that I'll leave that for my dad. I met basically everyone who played in the NFL in the 1990s. I was pretty star struck when I was younger, but you get used to it. It's always great to see a living legend and learn from them. They'll tell you all the stuff you wish you had thought about all along." And when did he know he wanted to play receiver? "When I caught the winning touchdown to beat our rival that we never beat … my sophomore year," he said.
  • As promised earlier, here's Taylor's take on rotating players in: "I don't like to rotate a bunch. But if a guy's not ready, it's not fair to the football team to put him out there. But typically in this offense, maybe six guys will rotate through a game with 80 plays. But other than that, that's it. Because you can't get timing with the quarterback. I cannot expect the quarterback to throw a slant on time because he's thrown three slants to three different guys. And I don't care what the steps are, no kid is the same. And that timing is going to come with doing it over and over and over."
  • Taylor on walk-on receiver Jay Wisner: "This guy moved to every position, he's just been a fill-in guy, a utility guy, and he hasn't made any mistakes and is really busting his tail and working hard out there. I was pronouncing his name wrong for a long time. He caught a touchdown and I learned how to say his name real quick."
  • So is he in the rotation right now? "Right now he is because I think he'd be able to help with special teams as well," Taylor said. "Again, those windows can close. I try to tell him every day is an interview. You can't go backward. Because you showed up one day, you've got to continue to do that. He's a hard-working kid. He really is. And I'll be honest with you, I wasn't sure if he'd be able to help us or not physically, but because he's where he's supposed to be when he's supposed to be there, that makes a difference. And in this offense, that's huge."
  • Trooper pulled out a great line for the injured guys who aren't able to practice, instead working out with weights on the sideline with strength coach Kevin Yoxall. He called it Muscle Beach.
  • Trooper, joking about why he wears cleats during practice: "You never know when one of them will want to try you. If they want to try you, you better have some friction or you'll end up underneath that stadium."
  • Special teams coordinator Jay Boulware didn't want to single out anybody taking kick and punt returns. "I want the kids to keep fighting," he said. "Somebody standing out to me right now might not be standing out to me in the end. I want them to stay the course."
  • Gene Chizik was all about the punt protection practice they were doing today. "He coaches a side and I coach a side, and that's his baby," Boulware said. "The punt team is his baby. He loves that. It's one time he gets a chance to coach, he's got a position on special teams. It just places extra emphasis on our teams and I think the young men are fired up for that as well.
  • The defense forced a couple of turnovers today, a pick and three or fumbles by LB Eltoro Freeman's estimate. He caused one, putting a hat on the ball and knocking it out of Eric Smith's hands.
  • Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said he would like to narrow down the quarterback race, but he still hasn't given a specific timetable. Perhaps tomorrow's scrimmage will help. "Anytime you can see, specifically, a quarterback in a team setting, operating everything, you can evaluate them a lot better," he said.
  • Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes likes his starting five. Beyond that, he's not so sure. "Umm, there's not anybody at this point that I'm ready to single out and say that they are really this close to being ready to play," he said. Umm, that's not a good sign. Asked if he was concerned about that, he answered slowly and didn't elaborate too much. "Yes. Yes. Yeah, it is a concern. But we're not playing tomorrow."
  • Grimes likes what he sees out of converted tight end Vance Smith, although he doesn't know how long it will take him to be game-ready. "He's still moving really well," he said. "He's such a good athlete, he's got really good feet so I feel like he's going to be fine carrying the weight; that's not a question mark at all. He made a lot of progress in the spring and he was really making great progress toward the end and then he missed a week. I'm pleased with his progress but he's still not ready to play. How about that? But I love the kid, he tries so hard, it means so much to him, he's got a lot of toughness about him. I think he will help us, but I don't know when."
  • Grimes on the progress of the freshmen: "Too early to say. I'm impressed with all of them. Whether or not they're able to help us this year depends on a number of factors: on the other people, injuries, how some other guys come along in backup roles and how quickly they can learn the system as well. For a freshman to play, you've got to be intelligent, particularly on the offensive line. You've got to be able to know what to to, be able to think quickly, particularly in the offense we run. You don't have a lot of time to discuss things so you've got to know the system. But the guy's also got to be physically ready to play: got to be big enough, strong enough to get in there and mix it up with guys that are three-four years older than him and then the guy's got to be emotionally stable enough to handle the pressure. It's too early to say whether that's the case but I told them all to come in here and be ready to play. Time will tell. I'm impressed in a short amount of time but we'll know a whole lot more in a week."


tigercowboy said...

I have been reading your blog for a while now but not posting any comments. I just wanted to pass on a "great job" and I look forward to more.

Let me know if you get a sense from CGM about Todd or Caudle. I feel it is going to be between these two guys.

ron mexico said...

My personal theory is that they would like to go with Todd, but are afraid his arm is going to fall off (as do i). And they are going to drag this thing out to see how is arm does, but the race is between burns and todd once again.

Anonymous said...

Great practice notes! Thanks!

AUBigCat said...

AB I really appreciate your take on Auburn!

I was listening to ITAT radio and they were giving alot of praise to Todd and Caudle with no mention of Burns. I found that interesting since I've heard may blog posters say the race is between Todd and Burns. Last year I didnt like Todd because I didnt feel he was a "true" Auburn man. He was just a hired gun that CTF brought with him. This year, he feels like an Auburn Man to me and I think our offense will be better quicker with a healthy Todd taking snaps. I hope tomorrow will answer alot of our questions at QB.

jdinmacon said...

With our situation at QB and the relative depth at RB I'm guessing we run more than pass.

Honestly I thought Todd was the better QB last year - but truly it was not a fair year to judge ANY quarterback, not with all the behind-the-scenes drama going on. I bet the QB play improves this year. Will Malzahn be to Burns / Todd what Borges was to Jason Campbell? Who knows, but I sure as hell hope so.