Auburn's first scrimmage gives young running backs chance to shine
Auburn’s first two-a-days of fall camp gave the young bucks a chance to show what they can do in a game-like situation.
A 70-play scrimmage on the field at Jordan-Hare featuring most of Auburn’s younger players filled up a majority of the morning session on Wednesday.
“We are trying to make decisions as quick as we can whether they can help on offense, defense or special teams,” said Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn.
Most of the play-calling was run-oriented featuring redshirt freshman Peyton Barber and true freshmen Roc Thomas and Kamryn Pettway.
“All three of those guys got a chance to show what they can do,” said Malzahn. “You see how they react (to getting tackled in a game-like situation). They get excited, rush things a bit, get to the hole a little quicker but that is the reason we (scrimmage) early in fall camp.”
Speed and play-making ability weren’t the only things Malzahn was looking for from the three backs. “Playing running back is not just about running,” said Malzahn. “It’s pass protection, it’s lining up on the right side, getting in the right depth, getting out in a route, understanding the offense.”
The competition for playing time at running back is stiff. Barber, Thomas and Pettway are sitting behind seniors Cameron-Artis Payne and Corey Grant. Artis-Payne and Grant are in their own battle for the starting running back job which Malzahn couldn’t shed any light on.
“I’m not really going to say ‘This guy is starting, that guys is starting,’” said Malzahn. “It could be a deal like last year: we turn them loose the first (game) of the year and see what happens. They both will have a big role and the three guys that got the majority of the carries today, they’ll have a chance as long as they can pick up the offense.”
According to Malzahn, nobody jumped off the page during the scrimmage. True freshman quarterback Sean White got a good amount of work in and looked fairly comfortable.
“He throws the ball on time and we knew that when we recruited him,” Malzahn said of the Florida native. “We have been pleased with him so far. He has been able to pick up things at a pretty good rate. Watching it from behind (him), there weren’t a whole lot of busts in terms of communication and execution.”
Malzahn said no final decisions will be made based solely on what he saw today. Watching the tape will give the entire coaching staff the information they need to make their decisions.
Other practice notes:
- On Jeremy Johnson Starting: “We are getting all of our bases down,” said Malzahn. “We haven’t got specific and we won’t get specific for another week or so as far as getting our plan together for the first game. All the quarterbacks are learning the offense at the same pace.” On Monday offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said that he hadn’t told Jeremy Johnson that he was starting against Arkansas.
- Chad Slade Update: Slade, filling in for the injured Alex Kozan at left guard, was again held out from practice Wednesday morning Malzahn said it is “just a bing and that he’ll be fine.” Junior Devonte Danzey, who saw limited action last season, has taken Slade’s spot.
- Punter Job: It doesn’t seem like the punting job is automatically doing to be handed to Jimmy Hutchinson. Malzahn said there are four guys competing for the spot but didn’t indicate which four. In addition to Hutchinson, there are five punters on the roster: redshirt freshmen Tyler Stovall and Jack Bjork as well as true freshmen Logan Rice, Matthew Shiel and Jarrod Fuqua.