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Notes from the Beat, 8/10

Hey, remember the inflatable autopilot from "Airplane!"? If Newton doesn't work out, maybe we can use his orange cousin here instead. Malzahn's worked with just as little in the past. (That's Jessel Curry on the tackle, by the way.)

So not one but two practices yesterday, one in full pads, and a scrimmage today: Auburn’s fall camp is starting to pick up a bit of steam, I’d say.

Covering that steam on the front lines are, as always, are Andy Bitter, Jay Tate, Andrew Gribble, and Charles Goldberg. The reporting is theirs. The half-baked analysis is mine. Here we go:

— I guess the lead development is the confirmation that Corey Lemonier is ready to live up to his substantial hype.  For Chizik to be asked “So, 25 freshman, who’s stood out?” and pick Lemonier over Dyer, Whitaker, Reed, Holland, etc. seems like a fairly rock-solid sign that Lemonier’s going to be seeing the field sooner rather than later.

Which is a problem for guys like Dee Ford and Joel Bonomolo. Right now there would seem to be an opening for a pass-rush specialist to replace either Michael Goggans or Nosa Eguae at “power” end (while Antoine Carter, obviously, continues to man the “quick” end) on passing downs, much the same as Ford did for the first half of last season. But it’s hard to see significant snaps for all three, and if Lemonier’s off to this hot a start already …

… well, frankly, unless you’re Ford or Bonomolo, that’s pretty awesome. Someone’s got to take over the pass-rushing terror mantle that McClover-Gunn-Groves-Coleman and now hopefully Carter have re-established, and if Lemonier can make a major impact as a freshman, he’ll look like the leading candidate to do so as a sophomore.

— From Bitter:

Here is an extremely broad list of players who were doing kick return drills: [Trovon] Reed, Mario Fannin, Terrell Zachery, Onterio McCalebb, Ryan White, Michael Dyer, Neiko Thorpe, Demond Washington and Antonio Goodwin.

Well, that narrows it down. And of the two return positions, this is the one that’s supposed to be clearcut! (i.e. Washington for sure, and then you’d have to think McCalebb, right?)

— Speaking of returns, and following up on yesterday’s Darvin Adams-as-punt-returner discussion, it sounds like the “well, we’re sure he can catch the punts, but can he actually return them?” question has been answered by Adams himself with a definitive “No.” If he winds up out there, it’s a sign our coaches are basically forgoing any chance of a positive return in exchange for a certain (fair) catch. Which will be preferable to last year’s cavalcade of errors, of course, but … could we see Chris Davis or Reed first? Just for funsies?

— Reed leads off today’s injury front, having missed yesterday’s morning practice, apparently not participating fully in the evening, and even prompting the “limo with no gas” line from Trooper. After all the buzz of Reed’s first couple of practices, it’s a shame. Whatever the problem is, at least it sounds a lot less serious than Deangelo Benton’s broken hand.

And even better, those two appear to be the only even halfway-serious injury casualties of camp so far. The only other non-participant was walk-on offensive lineman/Kryptonian Jorrell Bostrom.

— Obviously terrific to hear that Kodi Burns is continuing to make strides as a wide receiver, hauling a 60-yarder in the nighttime session and getting a nice round of praise from Taylor. If Burns can stay on the field as a legitimate receiving threat and not just a Wildcat option/gimmick executor, well, the list of Malzahn’s potential toys will just keep growing and growing, won’t it? (More specifically, and importantly: the team will be able to shift into Wildcat mode without having to substitute.)

— Hey, look who was at practice.

— Man, how can you not root for Eltoro? The guy clearly loves football and wants to make a difference, but it sounds like he’s wanted that so badly it’s actually hurt him. Money quote from yesterday:

He doesn’t sound worried about not starting. “I’m not into who’s going first or who’s going second. I’m not into all that,” he said. “I’m just into trying to help my team win and trying to get better with my assignments, and just go out there and play ball.”

Outstanding. Because, frankly, at this point it doesn’t sound like he’s got any real shot at starting–he’s obviously behind Stevens on the weak side, and it doesn’t sound like there’s any plans to move him back to the strong side as manned by Evans and Bates. But in 2011, we’re going to need a strong senior presence out there … and who better than a fit, healthy, focused The Toro? (Of course, in the unlikely event that the seemingly-indestructible Stevens gets injured, we’ll need him like crazy this year, too.)

–Two notes from Jeff Grimes’ discussion of the offensive line:

1. Yeah, that assumption yesterday that Brandon Mosley had maybe fallen behind a bit? Doesn’t sound like that’s accurate. Grimes did a pretty convincing job of making it sound like it’s a true three-man race between Mosley, Gayden, and Sullen.

2. According to Bitter, the backup centers are Jared Cooper and Blake Burgess, though they might also slide Mike Berry over in the event of an injury to Pugh. OK … so where on earth is Bart Eddins? I don’t think we’ve seen his name once in our camp reports to date.

— As for Frenchy, it’s great he’s on the up-and-up again. But all I could think after reading his interviews was how utterly horrible a job painting houses in Miami in midsummer must be.

— A couple of hard news bits I guess I can cover here:

1. So the Iron Bowl is back to Saturdays starting in 2011, but maybe only for the time being:

Last year’s game drew a 4.8 rating, up 92 percent from LSU-Arkansas on that date in 2008.

CBS is going to ask again, at the very least.

2. Congratulations to Darvin Adams and Josh Bynes, who were named to the Biletnikoff and Bednarik award watch lists, respectively. It’s quite the meteoric rise for Adams, who a year ago at this time hadn’t caught a single pass against D-I competition and was expected to be Deangelo Benton’s backup.

Photo by Van Emst.

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