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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Late night notes: Decision day comes as Auburn sets its scout teams for Arkansas State prep

Gene Chizik didn’t have any announcements to make Tuesday regarding Auburn’s position battles at right tackle, backup quarterback and punter.

But the Tigers did identify which players will help out in a scout team capacity heading into Arkansas State preparation.

“It’s really hard, so we try to make sure there’s no surprises,” Chizik said. “We do it in advance so everyone knows where their place is. Again, we told them that doesn’t mean where you’re going to end up the year. That’s just where we’re starting today and we’ve made that very clear to everybody.”

Among the notable names on the scout team are wide receivers Philip Pierre-Louis and Travante Stallworth, offensive linemen Eric Mack and Ed Christian, defensive end Joel Bonomolo, linebacker LaDarius Owens and defensive backs Ryan Smith and Demetruce McNeal.

Freshman Ryan White, who has dabbled as a quarterback and defensive back, will work as a scout team quarterback. He wore an orange non-contact jersey Tuesday but will also get some defensive reps in when he has time.

For some players, getting that news isn’t pleasant.

“I’m pretty sure it’s tough when you see your name up there,” linebacker Craig Stevens said. “You just have to accept it and play your role and try to get better every day.”

Others think it’s a valuable experience.

“If you’re going to be third or fourth on offense and you’re standing around not doing anything and watching everyone else get reps and throw, I’d much rather be on scout team over there slinging the ball around and having fun and getting to see an SEC defense every day of the week,” sophomore quarterback Barrett Trotter said.

“That’s what you’re going to be up against in the upcoming years, so it can’t do anything but help you.”

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Here are some more notes and quotes from tonight's round of interviews:
  • Lots of scout team talk tonight. So much in fact, that all of it couldn't fit in the lead note. We asked safeties coach Tommy Thigpen if he was ever on scout team. He was quick with a "Nooooo." Of course, he was a pretty highly recruited player to North Carolina. But from the sounds of it, being on scout team and redshirting wouldn't have been so bad for him. "Of course when you get older, you always wish you could have that year back," he said. "As a young guy, four-, five-star guy, you're supposed to come in and start right then and you get humbled. Then if you try to come in and play, you do special teams, and you lose a year. If I could go back and do it again I would like to redshirt."
  • Wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor offered some more insight to the process of telling the scout team payers what team they're on: "We don’t just do it individually, we do it as a group. coach (Curtis) Luper, myself and coach (Phillip) Lolley all visited with the freshman class before anybody did about which guys have redshirted and gone onto play pro ball. And we also talked about guys that have taken it the other way, where they redshirted and had all the hype and couldn’t handle it and had to take a knee. Basically just giving them an attitude adjustment before it ever happened. And then each position coach met with him and then the head coach met with them. I really didn’t see a lot of long faces. Obviously there were some kids that were disappointed because of the competitive nature in them, but they take that role now a little more seriously. I think some young guys found out how quick that window can close."
  • It might be surprising to see Owens on the scout team list. But he's transitioned from defensive end to linebacker in college. "It's a process that he's really handled well," Chizik said. "It's a learning experience. It's a difficult transition to put your hand on the ground and then you move back and your vision changes and there are so many moving parts."
  • Bonomolo is another surprise on the list. But he has been "dinged up," to quote Chizik, so that can explain his spot on the scout team.
  • Anthony Morgan remains a cornerback by trade, according to the coaches, despite us seeing him getting work on offense at practice. (I'm guessing he'll get the ball on some handoffs regardless). “With Anthony right now, he’s played a little bit of both,” Chizik said. “He played some defense, he played some offense. ... Just trying to cover our bases with depth.” Said Taylor: "You get two players in one."
  • Still no decision on the backup quarterback front, but Trotter said the participants still look for clues as to who it might be. "Naturally you're going to look for them," he said. "Really you can't take much stock into it. It's not going to get you anywhere but presuming things that might not be true. That's something you try to work away from."
  • Here is an actual three-question sequence with Chizik about injuries. You can see why it's so hard to quote anybody about injuries:
  • (Ladarious Phillips?)
  • "Day-by-day. It really is. We just don't know."
  • (DeAngelo Benton?)
  • "That's getting closer. That's getting much closer. I think we're a month out now as to when he got hurt. That one's going to be a little more day-by-day but that one's getting closer. That's for sure."
  • (Eltoro Freeman?)
  • "Same. Practice, ran around today more than he has. Again, that's going to be a wean-him-in-type-process and see if he stays healthy."
  • No clue how severe Phillips' ankle/foot injury is right now. But as I've written before, a boot is sometimes as a precautionary measure.
  • Taylor dropped a quick word about freshman WR Antonio Goodwin being injured and unable to practice. No news on the nature or severity of the injury.
  • Thigpen said he hasn't determined which two safeties will start in the opener. He has plenty of candidates, the most likely to start being Zac Etheridge, Aairon Savage and Mike McNeil. "We're going to let those guys compete the next two weeks," he said. "The best man will win." Etheridge and Ikeem Means are at strong safety, while Savage and McNeil are at free safety, but those designations won't matter. "Whoever the best two guys are at the end of this camp, those will be the two who start," Thigpen said.
  • Junior Drew Cole was the fifth guy in the rotation Tuesday, but Thigpen said don't rule out McNeal and Smith.
  • Thigpen doesn't think it will be a case where only two guys will get the majority of snaps. "You always feel like if a guy got a hot hand, you keep him in there," he said. "But as the season goes on, back on that back side, there's a lot of reps and a lot of running. You like to give guys breathers and get a nice little rotation where you don't run them down during the season. The more guys you can play, the better off we'll be in the long run."
  • A lot of special teams talk today, which I plan to use in a story for Thursday, so I won't spoil too much of it. But Taylor said Quindarius Carr would probably be the starter at punt return if the team played tomorrow. "He just worked at it, and he hasn’t put the ball on the ground," Taylor said. "You’ve got to have the trust factor back there when it comes to that guy."
  • Special teams coordinator Jay Boulware said punters Ryan Shoemaker and Steven Clark are engaged in a tight battle. Shoemaker has the better distance, but Clark has better get-off time and hangtime. The battle will continue this week.
  • Splitting the duties doesn't seem to be an option. "I prefer not to," Boulware said. "I prefer to let a guy go and get into a rhythm or not get in a rhythm, depending on what it is, and work their way through it, just like everybody else. Obviously, if it's shank after shank, you've got two guys who really and truly get the job done. It's just a matter of if they can do it consistently in front of 90,000 or in front of a road crowd that's ringing bells."
  • The kick returners, mentioned by Boulware in order: Demond Washington, Onterio McCalebb, Trovon Reed, Mario Fannin, Terrell Zachery and Neiko Thorpe. Does that mean Demond and Onterio will be out on the field first? Not exactly. "Demond and McCalebb are lead returners, but we usually put an off returner with those guys," Boulware said. "So you'll have to see."
  • PK Wes Byrum missed on kick last year. Think he remembers it? "I pushed it a little bit. Got a little underneath it and pushed it right. Tennessee. 43, left hash." Yup, I'd say he remembers it.
  • And lastly, center Ryan Pugh was named one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award, which is given each year to a Division I senior who excels in the community, class room, character and competition. Pugh has 31 career starts and was a second-team All-SEC pick by the Associated Press last season. Pugh has a 3.56 GPA, majoring in building science, and is a two-time SEC honor roll selection.


WDEwg said...

Late night substance. Thanks AB for all your work. This is the ONLY place to come for this sort of depth. I continue to appreciate it.

Would you say that Auburn has now moved into more of a game week type mode? Even though they are 1.5 weeks out?

Andy Bitter said...

Yeah, they're definitely in game week mode. Wouldn't surprise me if they were working a little bit ahead too, since they have a short week after the opener with a Thursday night game in Starkville.

AubOrange said...

Jay Boulware mentioned away fans "ringing bells". I'd bet that Mississippi State is well into the coachspeak vocabulary now, if not full-scale preparation.

Anonymous said...

Andy, PPL on scout team? Really? Poor kid...

Andy Bitter said...

He is only four months removed from ACL surgery. Him and Stallworth are still not 100 percent, so it's not too surprising.

Chris said...

Andy: Several sites are posting the Trotter has been named #2 QB. If so, what is Caudle's status? Do you think he will remian with the team or will he move since he already has his degree?

Andy Bitter said...

I don't think anything's official yet, but I imagine Trotter will be the guy (it's telling that of the QBs requested for interviews yesterday, only he showed up).

I think it's a little late in the game for Caudle to go anywhere, especially now that school has started. Honestly, is there that much difference between being the No. 2 and 3 quarterback?

MikeP said...

I don't think Neil Caudle wants to be anyplace but Auburn. Not sure where those rumors got started, but he's never said anything about a transfer.
Think it through: If Caudle was interested in transferring, he would have done so after spring practice if not before then. Now it's too late.

I think Caudle is an Auburn man through and through, and will be an excellent holder for the placekickers.

Chris said...

I am not talking about a transfer. I was wandering if you thought he would leave the team, concentrate on finishing his masters (close to finishing, right?), and move on with his career? Seems to me he has pretty much been told that there is no place on this team for him. In my opinion, the signing of Newton was a "no confidence vote" for Caudle back in January. I understand being an "Auburn Man" and loyality, but there comes a time when enough is enough.

Andy Bitter said...

Maybe he likes being part of the team. And as Mike P said, he is the team's holder. At least he's getting on the field every now and then.

Tar Heel Tiger said...

I'd give my left arm to be on Pat Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium as a holder. But who's ever heard of a one-armed holder.

Fantastic report, AB.

Day by day. More day by day. Same.

That was hilarious.

MikeP said...

As to Caudle "getting on with his career", I have read that hew wants to go into coaching, so he's probably getting on with his career and being the holder all at the same time.