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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Late notes: DE Carter might return vs. Ball State

AUBURN, Ala. — Gene Chizik said he hopes defensive end Antoine Carter (knee) will finally get some action this week.

Carter, who spoke casually with reporters while waiting for teammate
Mike Blanc to finish his interview, said he’s prepared to play Saturday against Ball State.

Carter originally injured his knee in the spring. He practiced some during the preseason but was not cleared to play in any of Auburn’s first three games.

As Blanc was being interviewed Tuesday, Carter, recording the session with his iPhone, interjected with a question of his own: “What do you think about defensive end Antoine Carter coming back this week?”

Blanc, playing along, said, “I’m just happy to have him back. I know he just be waiting to come back. Every day I’ve been talking to him, ‘Man, I can’t wait for you to get back out there.’ I want to see if he’s still got it.”

Carter, a junior, has 32 tackles in two years, with 10.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks.

Follow the blog on Twitter. Don't forget about Thursday's LIVE chat. And, if you still have the energy after all that clicking, read the following notes from Tuesday's late interviews:
  • Eight players of Auburn’s 19-member freshman class have not yet played this season, and it’s unclear whether they will continue down a path that leads to a redshirt season. “It’s just a long season, and we’re only going into game four,” Chizik said. “One play Saturday could change all of our ides.” The eight are running back Dontae Aycock, quarterbacks Tyrik Rollison and Clint Moseley, tight end Robert Cooper, offensive linemen Andre Harris and Aubrey Phillips and defensive linemen Nosa Eguae and Jamar Travis.
  • The 6-foot-2, 244-pound Eguae was expected to provide depth at defensive end but has been sidelined by a foot injury for the first three games. Of the other seven, only Rollison and Aycock seem far enough long to play this season, although that doesn’t seem likely because the Tigers are deep at their positions. “Obviously, as far as quarterback goes, we’ve got our guy, unless there’s an injury situation,” offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said. “We do have some depth at running back, so we’ll keep doing what we’re doing on that deal.”
  • Of the players still on the roster from Auburn’s 2008 recruiting class, five redshirted last year — safety T’Sharvan Bell, defensive linemen Cam Henderson and Derrick Lykes, wide receiver Philip Pierre-Louis and quarterback Barrett Trotter. Only Bell and Lykes have played this season.
  • Auburn forced six turnovers last week against West Virginia, the first time the Tigers have had that many in a game since playing New Mexico State in 2007. They didn’t force more than three turnovers in any game last season. “I think at one point because we weren’t getting turnovers, we were counting third-down stops as turnovers,” said cornerback Walt McFadden, who had an interception last Saturday. Auburn has forced 10 turnovers this season, tied for third most in the country. The Tigers have the second best turnover margin nationally (+2.3).
  • Former Auburn linebacker Quentin Riggins was named as one of 12 legends who will be honored during the SEC championship game Dec. 5 in Atlanta, the conference announced Tuesday. Riggins was a four-year letterman for the Tigers from 1986-89, winning three SEC titles. He earned second-team All-American and first-team All-SEC honors in 1988 and 1989, finishing his career with 398 tackles, fifth on Auburn’s career list. The SEC recognizes one player from each team in the conference every year. The former players will be honored during a dinner Dec. 4 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, with CBS broadcaster Verne Lundquist serving as the emcee.
  • We finally got to hear Malzahn comment about being able to pass the ball. Naturally, he was pleased. "Yeah, to be successful you have to be able to do both," he said. "You have to be efficient running the football and throwing the football. They were going to take away the run, that was their plan. We figured there was a decent chance of that, but we didn't think they would completely sell out like they did. But they did, and we were fortunate enough to make some plays in the passing game."
  • Watching some of the West Virginia replay, one keen sportswriter (not me) noticed that Auburn's players, after scoring a touchdown, would race to the referee to give him the ball, before doing any kind of celebration with teammates. Here's Mazlahn's explanation for why: "I just think it's good sportsmanship. That's what we do. Our guys are going to hand the football to the referee and celebrate as a team and then we'll celebrate then."
  • Malzahn had to laugh when one reporter asked him if he's giving Chris Todd the plays or if Todd is reading them off the cards the Tigers have on the sidelines. Obviously, Malzahn doesn't want that knowledge to be made public.
  • Malzahn and his quarterbacks are always on of the first groups on the field hours before the game, going over situations that could arise once play starts. "We've got to cover every situation and play the game in our head," he said. "We talk about different things. I'll ask him different things. We get in this situation and what are you thinking. Just trying to, one more time, get more focused and think about if we get in a situation, what we're going to do, what his reads are, what if it's this coverage. We just kind of play a lot of 'what if's' and try to play a game before we get there as far as the situation goes."
  • He also said that there's no such thing as going too fast with this offense, with one notable exception: "It's never too fast, unless you're at the end of the game, trying to win the game and slow the thing down and run the clock out."
  • McFadden said he ran about 115 yards on his interception return that got nullified by a holding penalty. "I wish I would have known," McFadden said of the penalty. "Next time I know how to slide like Josh (Bynes) did on his interception."
  • McFadden weighed in on Auburn's tackling issues. The problem? Too many guys just using their arms. "We've got to just bring our whole body to it," he said. "We're doing a lot of arm tackling lately. We've been trying to just knock people out just flying at them, but we've also got to bring our facemasks and push it against them, so that's something that we've been working on lately, because we're about to get down into these big games and these guys that are going to be 200 pounds-plus running the ball. A little hit is not going to knock them down, so we know we have to hold on."
  • LB Craig Stevens said Auburn is still trying to shake some of last year's habits by going full speed into ballcarriers to make a play. "Yeah, I try not to break all the way down because last year we were so used to breaking down for every tackle no matter what," he said. "It took us a while to break that habit but we just kind of run through but when we get to them, when it's a face shot, it just kind of shortens our steps a little bit."
  • Stevens also said that LB Spencer Pybus returned to practice. He's been out since the spring with an unspecified injury.
  • Stevens said he's happy for former defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads' success at Iowa State, where he's off to a 2-1 start. "I don't get on the Internet and look at what Coach Rhoads is doing, but when I see them on ESPN and I see Iowa State won I go, 'All right, coach Rhoads. They doing good, all right,'" Stevens said.
  • Walt weighed in on what makes WR Darvin Adams good: "I just believe he's a hard worker. He's not the greatest receiver. He's not the fastest receiver. He's just not ... you know. When you look at him on film, though, he's a threat. And I mean, he works hard. You can't put nothing past him. You look at his routes, his routes may not be the best, his hands may not be the best, but he's going to give you 100 percent on every play. And that's something I know about."
  • To get the point across how Auburn isn't going to overlook Ball State, McFadden said the team has been talking about how Jacksonville State almost beat Florida State. "We're trying to kind of throw this in young guys' heads that this is not a pushover game," he said. "This team went 12-0 least year. So they've still got some type of talent back there. You've still got to put it together, so you just never know. They might put it together this week."
  • Blanc said he didn’t play during the first half of the season opener because he was late to practice that Tuesday. He’s started both games since.
  • Blanc, who's good friends with safety Mike McNeil, thinks McNeil will return from his leg injury this year: "He’s handling it pretty good right now. He’s just anticipating coming out there. He doesn’t want to come back too fast and reinjure it. I know he says his running is going really well and the trainers are saying he’s looking real good. He’s handled it pretty well."
  • We got a lot of good stuff on Blanc, but I'd like to use that for a story a little later, although the Happy Haitian had this great take on Jake Ricks' post-interception run: "I gave him grief as soon as it happened. I was like, ‘How’d you let this man tackle you. He didn’t even dive on your legs. He jumped on your back.’ I thought he was going to carry him into the end zone. But he let him take him down. Coach (Tracy) Rocker was making fun. We were all making fun but it was good he made that interception. We work on that a lot in practice. Coach Rock always says keep the ball in your hand and you never know what will happen. D-linemen, this is the kinda plays we make. And it’s been happening."


AUsome04 said...

Great wrap up on Tuesday for Auburn football. Getting some good depth back on defense and offense. Out of all the articles I surfed for tonight this has been the best.

...one reporter asked him if he's giving Chris Todd the plays or if Todd is reading them off the cards the Tigers have on the sidelines.

Andy would you be willing to tell us who asked? lol Somebody's scared out there in the league.

Andy Bitter said...

Check out the video on my latest post. See if you can tell who it is.