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Notes from the Beat, 10/14

Worth it?
Worth it?

So we’ve got a freaking ton of newsbits to get through this a.m. Wasting no time …

Coleman. Why, it’s almost like Gene Chizik is a WBE reader: a day after your humble Auburn Blogger wondered if Coleman was being the best possible teammate by publicly asking for a meeting with his head coach to discuss defensive issues, Chizik reassures us Coleman is “the ultimate teammate” and that they didn’t really discuss “the direction of the defense.” So there, pot-stirring know-nothing bloggergeeks.

For his part, Coleman has nothing but great things to say about the meeting, about Chizik, about how he “loves playing football here.” Apparently, as the saying goes, it is all good in the hood here.

McFadden. If there’s any Auburn player you can count on to be unable to stop himself from telling the press how he’s feeling, it’s Walt McFadden, who said this yesterday:

“I’m going to get it cleared up by Wednesday hopefully. I’m trying to run on my own, trying to do a couple of things, but I really don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Less-than-encouraging, I guess, but at least we know he’s not ruled out. We’ll see what he has to say tonight.

Tate. He’s now the SEC’s leading rusher, and he’s on pace to make Curtis Luper’s 1,000-yard prediction look downright modest. Read all about him here (Goldberg) and here (Bitter).

Evans. If The Toro isn’t back this Saturday–he did practice yesterday–Jonathan Evans will be the sole scholarship linebacker on Auburn’s bench. How do you feel about that, Ted Roof?

“He’s got to come on,” defensive coordinator Ted Roof said.

Evans wasn’t expected to contribute right from the start, but now that Auburn is down to four healthy scholarship linebackers, he has no other option but to play.

His progress has been slower than Roof would prefer, but this week of practice can change that.

“Part of the transition is knowing what to do and being accountable,” Roof said. “That’s where Jonathan has to make some strides this week, so we feel comfortable putting him in the game at any time.”

Yay 2009 depth!

Practice. Here’s some good news: Josh Bynes and Mike Berry both said that yesterday’s practice had a nice edge to it, which is a lot nicer to hear than Malzahn telling us practice kinda sucked, which is what we heard last week.

McCalebb. That trick ankle’s not 100 percent just yet. Also, he’s not excited about playing in 65-degree weather. Spoken like a true Floridian, but what happens if he gets drafted by Buffalo or Green Bay a couple years from now?

Strategy. Roof’s made some noises the last week or so about no being able to be aggressive on defense as he’d like, and now Chizik echoes those thoughts:

“We’re just trying to put out there what we think we can do. You can’t always do exactly what you’d like to do; it’s just where we’re at. So, we’ve got to do what we feel we are physically capable of doing. And whether that’s being very physically aggressive or not, we’ve got to determine, week to week how aggressive we can be. As you saw Saturday, we took one of our best defensive backs, Neiko Thorpe, and he had a rough day. He was playing a great SEC receiver and a great SEC quarterback and was playing all the snaps. And the point is if you’re blitzing all day, you can run up on these kinds of situations. You’ve just got to pick your battles as to when you can be aggressive and when you can’t, and that’s where we’re at.”

More here. I think you can make the argument that at some point Chizik and Roof have damn the torpedoes and risk giving up a big play in the effort to make one of our own, but it’s also very, very clear at this point that our defensive staff would like to be including other things in the defensive game plan that they just can’t because of personnel issues. In other words: this is not the Ted Roof defense Ted Roof would like you to see, and that you’re much more likely to see next year.

Also worth noting: Chizik says the Wildcat’s recent absence has been “field position and circumstances” but Malzahn admits Burns’s and McCalebb’s injuries have had something to do with it, too. At that same Bitter link, McCalebb admits that Fannin is indeed the Wildcat backup–since we need to get hom a few more touche anyway, why not just run the Wildcat out there with Fannin?

Receivers. Malzahn on his corps of wideouts:

“The longer you go the more you have to have a third guy or even a fourth guy,” Malzahn said. ‘Some guys to get involved and take some pressure off our main guys. We’re working hard to do that and we’re hoping we have some guys in the wings that can do that.”

He also mentions that opponents “know where [Adams] is.” Carr, Benton, Blake, Stallworth, etc.: time to make it happen.

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