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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Late notes: Chizik looking for starting point; Malzahn would prefer to redshirt Rollison

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn head coach Gene Chizik spoke with optimism about the start of the season at his first weekly press conference Tuesday, eager to see his team in action nearly nine months after he was hired.

But even he had to admit he has no idea how things will click right away.

“The great thing about the first game is you always get a starting point,” Chizik said. “You know where you are going to be starting it. And to be honest with you, I don’t know where we’re at right now. It’s going to be interesting.”

Per NCAA rules, the Tigers have only been able to practice against themselves in the preceding four weeks, an exercise that for players quickly grows stale.

“We know everything they do on defense, they know everything we do on offense,” center
Ryan Pugh said. “We’ve been practicing against them for a month so they can probably line up and tell what’s coming before we call it, same as with them for us. It’s kind of like beating your head against a wall when you against your defense all the time. I think everybody’s excited just to go out and play against somebody else.”

Of particular interest is how
Gus Malzahn’s offense will fare. Fans have high hopes for what has been promised to be one of the fastest offenses in the country, a claim also made during Tony Franklin’s ill-fated tenure as coordinator last year. Coaches are confident this time is different.

“To be honest, I feel good about it,” wide receivers coach
Trooper Taylor said. “Here’s my deal. It’s kind of like you get a toy for Christmas and it snowed that day and you’re trying to get out and play with it and you haven’t had a chance to. You’ve been playing with it in the house; I’m ready to put it out in the yard and see what they’ll do.”

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  • Those expecting freshman quarterback Tyrik Rollison to get on the field soon might be disappointed. “Neil Caudle is our No. 2 going into this game,” Malzahn said. “If something were to happen to Chris (Todd), you would see Neil. Tyrik, we just have to have him ready. He’ll have kind of a shorter playlist if he had to play. But he’s our No. 3 guy now and that’s the way we’re going into the season.” Asked if he’d prefer to redshirt Rollison this year, Malzahn said yes. “I think that would probably be the best-case scenario if our starter stays healthy and does well,” he said. “That would probably be the best-case scenario.”
  • Monday night's news that Alabama defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick had been shot in apparent robbery attempt hit close to home Todd. The two were classmates at Elizabethtown (Ky.) High, where they won the Kentucky Class 2A state championship their senior year. “I talked to his mom earlier today and I think he’s going to be OK,” said Todd, who still hangs out with Deaderick when they’re back home. “It’s a really serious situation and not one to be taken lightly. 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. It’s crazy how stuff like that works out.” The bullet entered Deaderick’s forearm but missed vital organs, according to reports. He was released from a Tuscaloosa hospital Tuesday evening.
  • CB Neiko Thorpe says he's grown a lot since his freshman season, learning several important lessons along the way that have set him up to start this year. "I'd say the LSU game when I got scored on," he said. "That was my first time. I'd say going into those games I was a little nervous and stuff, but after that one play it was like all went away. I was mad that it happened, but at the same time, I needed that to kind of grow up and just play the game and not worry about all that stuff."
  • Defensive coordinator Ted Roof thinks highly of Louisiana Tech's offense. "I tell you what, they're a good offense," he said. "They're very physical up front, very experienced, and I expect they'll be more physical than they were last year. (Daniel) Porter the running back makes a lot of people look bad, real bad. We have a lot of respect for him. Obviously, the receiver (Phillip) Livas is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball, whether it's kickoff or punt or pass. He's heavily involved in a lot of aspects of their offense. And just watching their offense mature last year, after he started (quarterback Ross) Jenkins, they went 6-2. You saw him get better and better each week and more confident. He can keep the chains moving with his feet and they're not afraid to throw the field out with him. The stretch you with the play-action game and we've got to do a great job with our eyes making sure we don't give up any deep balls on the play-action."
  • Curious comment by Roof about expecting a close game. "We're expecting to have to win this thing on the last drive, in the fourth quarter," he said. "We want to make sure we have our best players fresh in the fourth quarter." Asked to clarify a little later, he gave this answer: "It's been my experience over the years that when you win your close games, you're going to have a good year, and when you lose your close games, it's a disappointing year. Just looking at the track record, we have got to win our close games. Louisiana Tech's a very fine opponent that we have a lot of respect for offensively and we're going to have to play well to put ourselves in a position to win."
  • Malzahn had a shorter take on Louisiana Tech's defense: "They’re going to make you earn it. That’s kinda their forte, their defensive coordinator’s forte, make you earn it. Last year, they were very good against the run and they got a lot of those guys back."
  • Besides a winning score, here's what Malzahn wants to see in the first week: "We want to protect the football. We want to have no stupid penalties. And we want to play at our pace. That’s about it, really. If we do those three things, we have a decent chance to be successful."
  • DE Dee Ford, who is a slight 220 pounds, says he'll have to use his hands more to be effective in a pass rush situation. He's definitely playing, at least in a special teams capacity.
  • DE Nosa Eguae had a great quote about getting into his first game action. "I just want to go out there and knock a head off," he said. "I think just going out there, every chance I get is to just show coach Chiz that I want it. And just go down there and just knock a head off, that's what I want to do."


Anonymous said...

"Chizik unsure where team is at"

Really? That's your headline?

Andy Bitter said...

It was a long day. And hey, I'm a reporter, not a headline writer.

Brawndo said...

Malzahn: "We want to play at our pace."

That's one of the things I'm looking forward to the most. I'm hoping we'll be among the nation's leaders on offensive plays per game this season.