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Notes from the Beat, 8/10

Onterio McCalebb version 2.1. Developers swear the injury bug that hampered the previous iteration has been resolved.

Yesterday was a first and a last for Auburn’s football team: their first practice in full pads, their last before going through the grind of two-a-days. (Well, the relative grind. There’s a lot fewer of them this year, as you’ve probably heard.)

Did that make it an “important” practice? Hell if I know. Hopefully not any more important than any other, since the Chiznick was less than pleased with it. In any case: first-hand reporting on it comes via Messrs. Bitter, Tate, Gribble,  and Goldberg. Lots of details out of this practice and post-practice interviews, so read there for the full scoop.

Tidbits worth analyzing:

— A bit more on the graduation of Auburn’s five current football players later on here at WBE, but it’s pretty cool they got the day off for it–not only do they miss a single practice that vets like Fannin, Zachery, Isom, etc. can probably do without, but their younger replacements get extra reps with the lead group. Plus, you know, they graduated. It is, as Michael Scott would say, a win-win-win situation.

— Bitter reported that in Isom’s absence, the first-team line went Ziemba-Berry-Pugh-SullenGayden. Maybe it’s a one-day thing. But maybe it’s not. If the latter, it appears Brandon Mosley may have slipped a little since spring … and that this is twice now we’ve seen John Sullen move up to the first team without hearing a thing about poor injury-blighted Bart Eddins, I’m guessing it’s a safe assumption that Sullen has definitively moved past the fifth-year senior on the pecking order for the time being. Exciting for Sullen, a shame for Eddins.

— Speaking of Gayden, when Gribble writes

There’s been some confusion over the spelling of OT Roszell Gayden’s name, but I can assure you it says “GAYDEN” on the back of his uniform.

do you think he’s speaking directly to those of us here at WBE, who spent a good deal of time the other day confronting this very question?

— Nick Fairley’s got a plaster cast over his right thumb, which is a bummer, but apparently it didn’t keep him out of any drills or cause any visible dampening of his spirits. (No mention of what Chizik might have said about it afterwards; curious if the beat guys have simply given up on trying to squeeze injury information out of the head coach.) So I’m assuming we don’t have to sound the injury klaxons. I mean, if a tackle can play with a full, club-style cast over his hand, this doesn’t sound an injury that’s going to force Fairley to miss any time. (Which is good, since, you know, he’s Nick Fairley.)

— Let’s see, other injury news: Deangelo Benton’s not back at practice yet; Zac Etheridge has the pads on but isn’t participating in contact yet; Aairon Savage did “some” live work; with no mention of Mike McNeil, I’m assuming he was full-go (maybe?).

Frankly, when you read that list (plus Fairley and Dakota Mosley, also out for the time being for undisclosed reasons), then hear about news like Tennessee’s, dude, it could be so, so much worse.

— Unsurprisingly, the sorta-nebulous development of the safety crew doesn’t look to have any impact on Daren Bates’ new “home” at linebacker. Which tells me, again, that they’re expecting Bates to start at LB.

— Look, I’ll just come right out and say it: I don’t like the idea of Darvin Adams returning punts. If he was head-and-shoulders above everyone else (a la Javier Arenas, who Boulware mentions in his defense of Adams taking the job), sure. Of course. No problem. But if Adams was that good at it, why didn’t he end up there last season?

I know the coaches know best … most of the time. But in this case, if Adams really does wind up the starting punt returner, it just seems like they’re taking on an awful lot of risk for little tangible reward.

— You have to enjoy the fact that Steven Clark’s already gotten off a few five-second hang-time punts in practice, better–according to Boulware–than either Clinton Durst or Ryan Shoemaker managed last season. Which is why everyone needs to root and root hard for Shoemaker to have a huge year–a redshirt year for Clark to work out the shanks should mean four consecutive years of top-shelf punting. (Also, if Clark did somehow win the job, you’d really have to feel for Shoemaker, a guy who was freshman All-SEC and then hypothetically lost his last three years to a soccer-playing walk-on and a true freshman. Hopefully it won’t come to that.)

— Nosa Eguae seems like he’s pretty definitively the No. 2 end behind Michael Goggans on the “power” side, not that that’s a surprise at all. Maybe more noteworthy is that we need to have a different nomenclature for Auburn’s d-line than “weakside” and “strongside” ends; we have “quick” and “power” ends.

— Also not a shock: Phillip Lolley saying Jonathon Mincy would have a shot at immediate playing time. It’s news that he’d say the same about Chris Davis, though, and according to Gribble, maybe even sound higher on the true frosh than T’Sharvan Bell and Anthony Morgan. Could just be a case of Lolley being pumped about the future potential of the newcomers … but last week I projected Mincy to land ahead of Morgan in the pecking order, and there’s no reason to back off of that just yet, that’s for sure.

— That Michael Dyer is fielding punts–despite sounding like he’d rather do the team’s laundry for a week–should tell you how freaking desperate the coaches are to find someone who can make a difference there. (I guess the fact they’re seriously considering Adams tells you the same thing, doesn’t it?)

— Pretty cool to have Kendall Simmons back and roaming Auburn’s practice fields. Attention recruits: even our random consultants are All-Americans-slash-Super Bowl champions.

— I don’t really have anything to add to the quotes from Phillip “P-Lutz”* Lutzenkirchen on blocking, Dyer on the transition to college, Lolley on Demond Washington, Eguae on not being injured, etc., but they’re all worth reading. So check out the beat blogs to read ’em.

Photo by Van Emst. Make sure to view the gallery for shots of Joel Bonomolo’s weapons-grade biceps and Jawara White being, you know, ginormous.

*It’s not working, is it? Damn, this kid needs a nickname. Just “Lutz” is too short, too colloquial. “Lutzenkirchen,” is, well, “Lutzenkirchen.” Someone come up with something good, stat.

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