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Notes from the Beat, 8/19

We should have a clock somewhere with "1,000" on it, that counts down with each yard he gets. It'll hit zero sometime during (or before) the Georgia game, I'm thinking.

Practice yesterday for Auburn, but that the lead out of the beat reports was about the nature of future practices should tell you how much hard data we got. We’re going to go over what we’ve got, though. And, as always, what we’ve got comes courtesy of Andy Bitter, Andrew Gribble, Jay Tate, and Charles Goldberg.

Without further ado:

— Aaaaaaaaand the right tackle battle is down to three as Roszell Gayden’s knee injury and general lack of momentum seems to have eliminated him from the picture. Quite a disappointment for him, no doubt, but if he can get healthy he’s still an excellent bet to claim a spot on the two-deep and a starter’s job in 2011.

By the by: as you might expect by his running with the first team in the drills the media have had the chance to see, the whispers are that John Sullen is in pole position here and should be able to wrap the job up this next week … if whatever ding had him sidelined today doesn’t hold him back for long, I suppose.

— Sounds as if Shaun Kitchens isn’t going to be just a guy who flashes potential in practice and then never sees the field once the season starts. If Malzahn is saying he “has a chance” to contribute, I get the feeling he’s going to.

— Good to hear Pugh say the offensive line just had a bad day at the last scrimmage; even better to hear him say that was due in part to a much, much improved defensive line.

— Injury report: The Toro is out of his boot but not 100 percent yet; Deangelo Benton is still M.I.A.; Joel Bonomolo isn’t practicing.

The good news here is that apparently The Toro’s setback hasn’t actually set him back with Ted Roof. “Absolutely fantastic camp”? I think that’s the most generous thing Roof has said about any player ever in his Auburn tenure. That he said of Freeman, Bates, and Evans that “they’re all going to play” is another positive. (I don’t believe for a second, however, that it “doesn’t matter” who starts.)

— On the same subject, I am encouraged that Roof is “very encouraged” by the defense. They’re going to be better. The only question is how much.

–Yeah, feel free to read as much into Bitter’s transcription of the Juggs machine wide receiver pecking order as you like. I think it seems to be more according to seniority than anything else with the exceptions of Adams (positive) and Winter (negative). But it’s interesting, to say the least.

— Welcome back to Ralph Spry, Jr., as the roster expands. Probably too late for him to make a real dent at either punt returner or wideout, but a nice head start on ’11 isn’t out of the question.

— About the furious flurry of scrimmages: I like it. Not necessary that I somehow know that this plan is superior to last season’s “throw everything at them up front” schedule; not being a professional football coach, this is one of those things I truly have no basis for issuing judgment about at all. But what I like is that Auburn’s staff isn’t the sort to just stick with a plan they think might not be working because it’s easier that way. They laid out their fall camp schedule in 2009 in a certain way; they evaluated how well it worked or didn’t work; they made changes they believe will make for improvements.

No doubt there’s a lot of coaches out there who’d do the same thing, but I suspect there’s also lot of coaches out there that would follow the same fall schedule every single year because that’s the way they’ve always done it, dammit, and that any failures would be the result of something else. This kind of analysis, flexibility, and willingness to experiment that Chizik and Co. is showing is an excellent sign for the future and should yield some big dividends down the road … whether the schedule switch does or not.

Photo by Van Emst.

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