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Notes from the Beat, 8/25

Crunch time.

Believe it or not, fall camp is beginning to wind down on the Plains. The team is beginning to make the move from camp drills to actual game week preparation. Auburn had Sunday and Monday off, so they’ve had some extra energy the last two days. We’ll get right to it, but first, as always, be sure to thank your friendly neighborhood beat writers: Andy Bitter, David Morrison, Jay Tate, and Charles Goldberg.

— The talk of the day Tuesday was the depth chart, i.e. the progress in ironing it out. Trooper Taylor narrowed it down to seven wide receivers that he can “count on,” and — off the top of his head but in some semblance of order — listed them: Emory Blake, Deangelo Benton, Trovon Reed, Travante Stallworth, Quindarius Carr, Jaylon Denson, and C.J. Uzomah. Not many big surprises there, although I’ve made it no secret that I’m expecting big things from Carr his senior season, so it’s somewhat surprising to see him so far down the list. Still, when you’ve got a guy like him that seemingly has more experience than all four of the guys ahead of him combined, it will probably be hard to keep him off the field once the season begins — especially while the young guys, Reed and Benton, will still be getting used to live bullets in real games.

It’s been apparent all camp that Jeffrey Whitaker and Kenneth Carter will most likely be the starters at defensive tackle. But Mike Pelton also recognized the roles ofJamar Travis, Gabe Wright, Angelo Blackson, and Devaunte Sigler in a six-man rotation: “That’s the plan: to keep them fresh, keep them going. Eleven o’clock game, it’s hot, we want to play as many of them as we can.”

If you’ll notice, three of those four reserves are true freshmen, with one, Devaunte Sigler, being a converted linebacker without much experience at the position. Pelton likes it that way: “The thing with him playing linebacker in high school: There’s no bad habits to break. Everything he’s learning is for the first time. And so some of the stuff that guys have problems with, he doesn’t. He don’t know the bad habits. So if he plays full speed and is very athletic, it’s going to be interesting to see him out there in September. I don’t know who’s going to be more excited: him or me.”

— Since we’re here, I’ll go ahead and be the last to break the news: Barrett Trotter is the starting quarterback. I haven’t yet had the chance to share some thoughts. First, having a quarterback like Trotter in his third year in the Malzahn system is scary enough on its own — but it’s also uncharted waters. After bouncing around at Arkansas for one year and Tulsa at two, this will be Malzahn’s first third-year understudy, and the closest thing he’s ever had to a returning starter. It will be very interesting to see in the first few games how he handles the offense compared to the last two guys who were in it for just one season.

Meanwhile, on the flip side of the coin is Clint Moseley. All I will say is that for a guy who in the spring admitted to throwing himself “pity parties” and being in a bad place, I hope he can find a way to stay out of that funk this time around. I seem to recall a guy named Newton that faced a lot of adversity in his career, as well.

— Getting back to current events, there was more depth chart talk on Wednesday. Cornerback Ryan White named the starters there as T’Sharvan Bell (duh) and Chris Davis. When Bell moves in to play the nickel, White will be the third man to come in and take his spot on the edge.

White, if you’ll remember, is the holder and spent most of last year as the scout team’s quarterback, before he was needed at corner late last season and had his redshirt burned against Ole Miss. White was understandably frustrated about it then, but now says it was for the better. “It worked out as a blessing. I came in early at quarterback. I saw early time at cornerback. Then I was redshirted for six games. I was called upon to come play. At first, I was mad about it — that they took my redshirt. In the end, it helped me out getting adjusted to the game. I guess it was a blessing.”

He also apparently sometimes misses playing quarterback. I think I understand why. “No contact in practice,” he said.

— Finally, Emory Blake says that we’ll see more of the hurry-up this year. “It’s going to be more of a weapon that we use more often.” There’s no question that the pace was slowed down at the end of last season, with Newton running the show and the offensive line providing more of a physical rushing attack. But this year, it will great to see the dogs off the leash again, and the offense going a hundred miles an hour. Combine that with the return of the Wildcat, which we were told about this spring, and it’s going to be a beautiful, beautiful sight (if you’re an Auburn fan).

‘Krootin: The coaching staff added two commitments this week on the recruiting trail — both cornerbacks — bringing the commitment total for 2012 up to 15.

First came the commitment from Jonathan Jones from Carrolton, Georgia, on Saturday. He’s a universal three-star prospect on the recruiting sites, and ESPN has him ranked best at 22nd nationally at the cornerback position. But Jones is also a track star in Georgia, winning state in Class 3A last year in the 110 meter and 300 meter hurdles, while taking home the all-points title and landing his track team its second straight state title.

Then on Tuesday came the commitment from T.J. Davis from Tallahassee, Florida. He’s either a 3 or 4-star depending on your recruiting site of choice, and is ranked best by ESPN (once again) as the 11th best cornerback nationally. But all you need to know about T.J. is his offer list; Alabama, LSU, Florida State, Ohio State, Florida, Notre Dame, and many more all wanted him on their campus. Instead, he’s coming to the Plains.

There are plenty of notes and quotes from the commitment announcements for Jones and Davis, but let’s get right to everybody’s favorite part: The highlights. Davis has a great reel from his junior year here, and some film from his sophomore year as well, here. Not to be outdone, Jones has some excellent highlights here and here.

If there’s one thing we can take from this, it’s that with these guys joining Joshua Holsey in February’s signing class, the future is looking up for what has been fragile secondary of late. That, and that I could watch Jones showing off his speed on those quick end-arounds from the wing all day.

Photo via Van Emst.

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