Andrew Gribble just posted Auburn’s depth chart under the heading “Auburn releases depth chart, doesn’t surprise anyone with anything,” and while that’s a slight exaggeration, it ain’t that far off, either. If you and I had sat down and drawn out what we expected Auburn’s two-deep to look like, we wouldn’t have been more than a few players off.
But it’s worth highlighting those players, because there are a few questions this depth chart asks, a few surprises to be duly noted. Like:
–First and foremost, Trovon Reed listed as the third-string H-back and left off of the receiving three-deep entirely. Uh … did anyone think he was even practicing at H-back? With, you know, Eric Smith and Shaun Kitchens and kinda-sorta the Swede Killa? What gives?
Here’s my theory: we know Reed has the capacity to line up just about anywhere: outside receiver, slot, Wildcat QB, and–yeah–even H-back. But he’s not a starter at any of those positions and can’t be listed as such. But he’s also not the backup, strictly speaking, because if player A went down with injury, Player B Who Is Not Reed would take over most of the snaps. Plus Reed maybe isn’t a guarantee to play at all, thanks to his injuries. So they decided to just slip him in the depth chart wherever they could, and oh look, here’s an open spot under H-back.
Whatever the depth chart says, if he’s healthy enough to play, I’ll still be somewhat stunned if someone like Kitchens or Jay Wisner sees more snaps than Reed.
— While the defensive depth chart answers a few vague lingering questions–it’s Fairley and Clayton at starting tackle; yes, Etheridge is the planned starter over McNeil; yes, Harris Gaston and Jake Holland are neck-and-neck in the backup MLB race–it’s 99 percent chalk, right down to the “OR” between Jonathan Mincy and Chris Davis in the dimeback slot.
The one surprise: Jessel Curry as Daren Bates’ backup at “RLB,” or weakside linebacker. The consensus, as far as I know, has been that Jon Evans was working behind Bates at that spot, with The Toro occupying the reserve role on Craig Stevens’ side. The depth chart, instead, has both Freeman and Evans on the strong side (with an “OR” between them). I’m assuming this is injury cover for The Toro–if he can’t go, Evans is definitely backing up Stevens, but this is still where The Toro would play if he’s healthy enough. And Evans would slide over to the weakside if that’s the case, but since they can only list him once …
Anyways: it’s still a positive sign for Curry, the only one of the four freshmen to make the two-deep at LB (however it happened) without that qualifying “OR.”
(But while I’m thinking about, a brief open letter: Dear Daren Bates: I think the world of Curry, but please don’t get hurt this week. Thanks, Jerry.)
— Aside from the Reed shenanigans, the biggest surprise on offense? No Antonio Goodwin. We might expect to see Carr and Benton behind Zachery, but Jay Wisner (OK) and Derek Winter (say wha?) behind Darvin Adams? When the next thing we hear Trooper Taylor says about Winter will be the first? If Goodwin’s this far down the pecking order, why isn’t he on the scout team?
Maybe it’s an injury thing. Or maybe it’s a “he’s only been working at the Z, but we didn’t want to leave Benton off the chart entirely” kind of thing. In any case: I’m thinking Adams, Zachery, Carr, Wisner, and Reed are the only guys we see take meaningful snaps on the outside until proven otherwise.
— Hey, “Son of” Jorrell Bostrom made the two-deep, sharing backup right guard honors with Cooper. Meaning that as much effort as Chizik and Co. made to overhaul the o-line in the offseason, we’ve still got two walk-ons on the second string. All right!
Also worth noting that rather than list Chad Slade as the third right tackle, Chizik and Co. left him off the depth chart entirely. He’s done well to avoid scout team duty, but unless both Isom and Greene share simultaneous injuries–and maybe not even then–he’s still probably headed for a redshirt.
— Despite the “OR,” Chizik has said that Ryan Shoemaker will punt against Arkansas St. No surprise there.
Photo by Van Emst.