It’s been a pretty busy couple of days so far this week on the Auburn beat, especially considering that it’s Chattanooga week. Before we get started, as always, be sure to show some love to your beat writers — Andy Bitter, Jay G. Tate, Charles Goldberg, and David Morrison — for their hard work. The reporting is all theirs.
– Recent talk, as you’ve likely read and heard, has been all about Coach Gus Malzahn’s name popping up in rumors regarding a couple of head coaching jobs. When asked about it yesterday, Malzahn said: “My entire focus is on this team and making it the best it can be… I love working here, I love working for Coach Chizik and I love coaching these kids. And my only focus is trying to win games and trying to win a championship.”
Of course, these particular rumors are pretty much completely bogus. But their (lack of) credibility is kind of irrelevant, because we all know that he will be getting a call or two some off-season or another. When he was asked if head coaching was a personal goal, he said, “Somewhere down the line I’d like to. But I’m in no hurry… We’ve got a great thing going here, and I’d like to see it through.”
Whether “through” means through the bowl game, or through the collegiate careers of Mike Dyer and Kiehl Frazier, remains to be seen.
– In case you haven’t noticed, it’s getting cold outside. Chizik says that the team likes it, and responds well to it. “When you’re used to so many days in the humidity and the heat, I think it gives them a little more pep in their step. I think you can kind of tell when the weather cools off, they’re bouncing around a little more out there.”
– Moving on to UT-Chattanooga, Lee Ziemba says that on a week like this, the team has to use it to focus on itself and improving. “You’ve got to view it as you’ve got to work on yourself. You’ve got to use it to improve individually. As far as technique, as far as understanding the scheme, things like that, that’s the way you can take a step forward in a game like this.”
– Mike Dyer is just 107 yards shy of Bo Jackson’s record for single season rushing yards by a freshman. However, I have a feeling senior Mario Fannin will be getting the majority of the loads on homecoming.
– This will be a very special homecoming for Josh Bynes. “A lot of people don’t know, but my mom and dad have never been to a game at Auburn, never seen one actually in Auburn. My dad’s coming up this weekend, so it’s going to be good for him to walk down on the field with me, the first time he’s actually been to the stadium and stuff. I think it’ll be a good last-year experience for me.”
– And now, your weekly (daily?) defensive back depth chart carousel update:
First of all, freshman cornerback Ryan White, who famously wanted a shot at quarterback, and was given a shot earlier this year in camp, had his redshirt burned last week against Ole Miss. And it was completely necessary, thanks to the injuries that have plagued the already shallow defensive backfield. But it wasn’t done hastily. Coach Lolley said he discussed the situation with White, and with White’s dad. And now he’s in and ready to go and should provide a big relief and a big boost to the DB corps.
So that currently makes your corners (with T’Sharvan Bell injured): Demond Washington, a banged up Neiko Thorpe, Chris Davis, and now Ryan White.
Also, Zac Etheridge has been practicing at nickelback some this week, so we could see him slide over there in certain packages, with either Ikeem Means or Demetruce McNeal filling Etheridge’s spot opposite Mike McNeil.
In other words, things aren’t getting any less confusing. Here’s hoping we can get T’Sharvan Bell and Aairon Savage back soon. Say what you will about the Auburn secondary, but it’s an achievement that Coach Lolley and Coach Thigpen can still stitch together anything resembling of a cohesive unit.