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Notes from the Beat, 8/12

Brantley represent.

The first scrimmage of Auburn’s fall camp is in the books, and the winner is … optimism, apparently.

Or at least, that’s the sense you get reading the quotes and reports from beat hacks Andy Bitter, Jay Tate, Charles Goldberg, and Andrew Gribble. Take their word for it. As for the WBE response to all that optimism and the other developments of the day, read on:

— The problem with scrimmages like these is that it’s impossible–without actually watching the thing, and let’s see did anyone get to do that no no one did–to know whether to be excited the offense did so well or disappointed the defense didn’t do more to stop them. (Or vice versa, hypothetically, though it seems like “defense has big day, offense struggling” hasn’t been the theme coming out of an Auburn scrimmage since A-Day ’09.) My initial tendency reading the “huge plays for the offense!” leads is to think the defense could be better, particularly once you read on and find that the scrimmage seemed to be devoted mostly to blooding the new arrivals. If Goodwin and Kitchens are scorching the D, what would Zachery and Adams do to it?

Then again: judging by Chizik’s and Craig Stevens’ ample praise for the freshmen defenders, the D was playing a lot of n00bz as well. And more importantly, both Stevens and Roof–the latter not exactly Trooper Taylor when it comes to dishing out compliments–seemed pleased with the defense’s performance overall, particularly in run defense.If they’re happy, can I justify being unhappy?

Well … maybe just a little. We know the offense is going to be fine, and very very likely a hell of a lot better than fine. Too much talent, too much coaching. If the defense was shutting it down, that would be one heck of an accomplishment, and maybe the most encouraging development possible. But I’ll gladly take Roof and Chizik’s general “we done good” positivity over last year’s “well … we’re improving” tone, that’s for sure.

(One other note to make sure these points are well and truly beaten to death …The description we’ve got of the defense’s scrimmage? Solid against the run, flaky against the pass? Remember that that’s been Roof’s m.o. for long before he came to Auburn: dramatically-improved, extremely stout run defenses, but sometimes at the cost of big plays given up in the passing game. This could be a sign we are, in fact, going to see the kind of defense Roof and Chizik envision this season rather than last year’s whatever-works approach … and if the Iron Bowl was any indication of its potential, yeah, sign me up.)

— How much do I love not only Malzahn but–more importantly–his new protege at quarterback moaning and griping about the offense’s performance after it won the scrimmage and by most accounts outperformed the D? I love it a lot.

— Injury report: Etheridge an unsurprising no-go; Reed still limited, but got a few reps and should be back full-tilt by Saturday, according to Taylor. That’s good news. Better news: still no other injuries KNOCK ON EVERY PIECE OF WOOD IN YOUR OFFICE AND IF THERE ISN’T ANY, START KEEPING SOME IN YOUR DESK

— So you could just about ask which freshmen didn’t shine in the scrimmage rather than which ones did, which honestly makes it a little hard to get too thrilled about any one in particular. It’s almost like the line from The Incredibles: if everyone’s special, does that mean anyone really is? If the coaches are issuing blanket praise for everyone, did anyone really stand out?

But that’s the sourpuss approach, when the truth is that based on the very early returns, the class as a whole seems poised to do what it was supposed to do, i.e. set the foundation for success for the next decade at Auburn. Yeah, I said it. Receivers, linebackers, defensive backs, running back, punter/kicker, defensive line, quarterback if you include Newton … if Jeff Grimes would bother to hype up his freshmen, we’d have all our bases covered.

And I do take particular encouragement from Bynes’ effusive praise for Jonathon Mincy; not only do we need the immediate help at corner (as I’ve said ad nauseum), but coming so soon after the Devin Gaulden mini-hullaballoo, it’s nice to have the verification that the Chiznick’s eye for secondary talent hasn’t diminished.

— Praise for Kodi Burns is always welcome, too.

— Anything else? Seems like the praise for the backfield aside from Newton (and Moseley) has been a little muted, I guess, but maybe that’s just because Malzahn doesn’t want to tip anything on the Caudle/Trotter battle and Luper hasn’t talked to the media as of late.

And that’s all I’ve got for now.

Chuck Person photo by Van Emst. Great to see him there, no doubt, but could we lose the Yankees hat next time?

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