Bielema's biggest concern is Auburn's speed, not who's starting
When Brett Bielema met the media on Monday, the last thing he wanted to do was try and guess who will be playing what position for Auburn on Saturday. Even when Auburn’s depth chart is released Tuesday, it won’t solidify every position. Bielema won’t have a “ah-ha” moment and complete revamp his game-plan when the Tigers depth chart comes out.
“Whatever shows up in the backfield, whatever person starts and whatever person lines up on the field, we’ve just got to roll with it and make the best of the situation,” Bielema said.
The Tigers have a game of musical chairs going for Saturday’s opener. Auburn’s starting lineup is being tweaked because of disciplinary reasons for certain players. It is also because of the Tigers depth. Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson will both play under center is because of Marshall’s citation. Robenson Therezie might not see the field because of an eligibility issue. Therezie’s running mate in the secondary, Jonathon Mincy, won’t be starting either.
Who Auburn will be bringing off the edge to rush Razorback quarterback Brandon Allen will also be musical chairs. That is by design though not because of disciplinary reasons. Defensive line coach Rodney Garner wants his potential starters at defensive end – Gabe Wright and Elijah Daniel – to consistently be substituted out. That will give reps to DeVonte Lambert, LaDarius Owens and Raashad Kennion. Lambert and Kennion showed tremendous speed and athleticism in fall camp.
Different faces in the backfield doesn’t apply to just quarterbacks. There could be as many as three different running back on the field for the Tigers Saturday. That too is because of depth, not disciple. Cameron Artis-Payne, Corey Grant and true freshman Roc Thomas all could play Saturday. Like Lambert and Kennion, all three backs bring speed just in a different capacity.
It is Auburn’s speed that concerns Bielema more than anything else.
“If there is one area that’s kinda being overlooked in my opinion, is they signed a couple of really good players and their perimeter players from a year ago are back and they have a lot of gifted speed,” Bielema said. “It’s our biggest concern.”
In addition to those signed players – Lambert (junior college transfer), Kennion (freshman) and Thomas (freshman) – Bielema was also referring to wide receiver Duke Williams, another junior college transfer the Tigers signed. Williams has been put in higher regard. Auburn’s wide receiver coach Dameyune Craig called Williams a game-changer and one of the best receivers he has ever seen.
Add wide receivers Sammie Coates, Ricardo Louis and Quan Bray to the list of Tiger speedsters. As well as Marshall.
“Nick is a seasoned player, an athletic player, a guy that can say he’s played in the big game and won and excelled and played on a big stage,” Bielema said. “As long as he’s in there, we’ll see that, but I don’t see their offense changing a lot, whoever is at quarterback.”