Auburn’s finally gone back to practice, and as a result we’ve got actual, you know, news to respond to. Which is cool.
— First and foremost, it sounds to me like we’re on track to have Eltoro Freeman back for the bowl. He’s already practicing and this is what Chizik has to say about him:
“He’s made a lot of progress. He’s got a ways to go. He’s not a full 100 percent, but compared to where he was a couple of weeks ago I think he’s made significant strides. He needs to continue to do that if we’re going to play him in that bowl game the way we need to play him.”
Putting the 2 of “making strides” and the other 2 of “we need him” together, the WBE crystal ball says we’ll see the Toro against Northwestern. Mario Fannin is the other major injury concern; he’s got a “neck stinger,” which, uh, that doesn’t sound promising (though it’s better than the concussion I’d have assumed he’d suffered watching that hit vs. ‘Bama), but if he’s right that his non-contact jersey is just precautionary, then we’ll probably see him, too.
Two other injury notes from Jay Tate: Mike McNeil is apparently practicing again–finally–and Antonio Coleman’s midseason injury was (holy crap) a partially-torn ligament in his wrist. And he still led the SEC in sacks and TFLs. What kind of season could he have had if he’d stayed perfectly healthy?
— Fortunately, Coleman doesn’t seem to have any regrets. From the very tail end of this (awesome, as always) Andy Bitter post:
“I know I got out there, laid it on the line and I had fun,” he said. “I enjoyed every minute of it. This was the best year I’ve had since I’ve been here. It was the greatest year I’ve had here at Auburn — being around a coaching staff that’s family-oriented.”
Emphasis added, because, man, if you haven’t figured out yet, Auburn’s players are hella bitter about 2008. Not just the offensive guys, not just the underclassmen–everyone. If things were so miserable behind the scenes that the wounds are still this raw a year later, no wonder the Auburn A.D. decided it was best to put the Tubby era behind us.
Malzahn didn’t go much into freshman quarterback Tyrik Rollison‘s suspension, saying it won’t drop him too far behind in terms of the race to be next year’s starter. “He got a lot of reps during the year so I wouldn’t say much,” Malzahn said.
Oh. Well then. Just one more piece of evidence that Malzahn has one criterion and one only when evaluating who ought to be his offense’s quarterback: who’s the best. Suspensions, reps, leadership hoo-ha–whatever–be damned.
Still, it can’t be good for Rollison that he’s sitting at home while Clint Moseley and Barrett Trotter get their shots at running the show … and Moseley, in particular, earns plaudits in the process from both Malzahn and (this is more intriguing) Trooper Taylor. Even Malzahn admits the race for the 2010 QB spot is starting now. Still think Rollison has, unfortunately, really hamstrung his chances with this situation.
— Speaking of Taylor, is his praise for Moseley, Dontae Aycock, and “tight end Robert Cooper” the first confirmation we’ve gotten that Cooper has officially moved to TE? I might have missed it somewhere else along the line, I guess, but whatever: Cooper’s a TE.
— Not surprisingly, Taylor downplayed the damage done by his “court”-ordered absence from the fall recruiting trail:
“And let me tell you, if you don’t have relationships with your recruits and they’re not calling you, you’re down by 7 anyway,” Taylor said. “So that doesn’t bother me a bit as far as that part is concerned. I really did enjoy being around the football team as an assistant head coach, given those duties when the head coach is not around, and being able to do that gives you experience so when that opportunity comes, you’re ready.
“Before I would have been on the road, so I wouldn’t have had those kinds of deals. That was a really good experience for me.”
I’m sure Taylor would still have rather been doing his usual recruiting thing, but the “they call me” detail goes a long way towards explaining why he was able to earn a commitment from the likes of Trovon Reed even without hitting the pavement.
— Still a ton of information in Bitter’s two posts from the weekend. Highlights I’ll force you to click over to get the full account of: Adams is indeed tres pissed re: his All-SEC snub (as well he should be), Bart Eddins has his eyes on the starting-job prize (“I will be ready,” Eddins said. “You can bank on that”), McCalebb is getting a look at Wildcat QB (would like to see Emory Blake get a shot there, for whatever that’s worth), and a bunch of Auburn’s seniors got honored at the team banquet for being a) seniors b) awesome.
— Lastly, Sir Charles isn’t ready to concede that the Chiznick was a better choice for Auburn’s head coach than Turner Gill. The Bulls’ inevitable turnover-fueled downturn this season combined with Auburn’s vast improvement both on the field and in recruiting means I don’t think Chuck’s really got a leg to stand on … but he and K-Scar are right that one season does not a career make, and now we even get to see what Gill can do at a BCS school after his hire at Kansas. I don’t blame Barkley for sticking to his guns … I mean, he is Charles Barkley and all. He didn’t get to be who he is by backing off of his opinions.
Photo via al.com.