Well, I guess that didn’t take too long:
Auburn running back Eric Smith is back with the team after a 2½-week absence following his arrest for third-degree assault last month, Tigers head coach Gene Chizik said.
“I said that if you see Eric Smith back in an Auburn uniform, you’ll know that he did the things that we needed him to do to become a better Auburn man,” Chizik said. “And you’re going to see him in a uniform this week. And he’s done what we asked him to do. And we’re going to move on.”
Some hangin’ judge wags might point out that the de facto punishment for Smith knocking some fool clean out in front of a policeman was a suspension that lasted all of one game. But seeing as how this was a multiple-practice suspension as well, and that Smith has likely fallen well behind in the race to snare carries that were going to be hard enough to come by to begin with, I’d argue he’s done his time. He missed the Tech game, but in terms of actually seeing the field, I’ll be quite surprised if the incident doesn’t wind up costing him the State and WVU games, too.
As for the Auburn football perspective, Week 1 likely taught the backup tailbacks a harsh truth: as long as Tate and McCalebb are healthy, whatever shuffling goes on behind them on the depth chart isn’t going to matter much. Those two accounted for every carry Auburn gave to its tailbacks against Tech and with as much success as each had, they seem certain to gobble up every non-garbage time carry Auburn’s going to give out for the forseeable future. (Not to mention, as far as Smith is concerned, that with Chizik making noise about Fannin getting carries, SupurMario27 might be the current third option.)
But if Tate were to go down, yeah, it’s nice to have Smith around to take over the full-time power role rather than burning Dontae Aycock’s redshirt. And after last week’s Auburn performance, it seems safe to say there will be some garbage time at some point this year in which Smith (or Aycock) can make his case.
Still, that Smith’s return is such good news has a lot more to do with Smith fulfilling whatever requirements Chizik and Co. made of him–and refurbishing a bit of his reputation–than Auburn’s non-desperate need of a third-string running back.