News of the day, 8/28
UPDATE: Official depth chart released. See below. Only minor surprises.
Thanks for taking yet another SIZZLING dose of the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net.
Auburn's tailbacks were off-limits to the media today; an odd development. This is the last day this week that players are available for interviews. Auburn rarely makes anyone off-limits. Especially on a Tuesday, which is the program's designated interview time. Surprising to say the least. Lester also wasn't available during Sunday's interview period.
Tommy Tuberville was asked at his press conference about Lester's status. The coach's answer was intriguing. He said Lester remains the team's top option at tailback, but added that anything could change. Tuberville used vague language throughout his response. Draw your own conclusions.
Recall that Lester missed the Cotton Bowl because of an academic issue. It appears that the same academic issue is at play right now. It's unclear how or when the situation will reach a resolution.
Asked about wideouts who can be game-breakers, Tuberville cited Rod Smith, Prechae Rodriguez and Rob Dunn. Tuberville noted that Rodriguez is tall and caught some passes last year. I've been saying for a while that all the talk about Brandon Cox being a star is moot unless someone emerges as a go-to passing option. Who is it going to be? Dunn and Chris Slaughter, to me, have the most game-breaking potential. I like Smith. I think he's a good player. He's not a star. He's a reliable guy. Reminds me of Jeris McIntyre.
DE Quentin Groves on Kansas State DE Ian Campbell: "Ian Campbell, the defensive end for K-State, is my exact opposite. He's white, I'm black. He's fast, I'm slow." Always good for a laugh, that No. 54.
Today was my first trip to Sewell Hall's cafeteria, the preferred dining area for football players, since its summertime renovation. Wow. The school has spent approximately $150,000 to upgrade serving equipment, lighting, flooring. There are four 50-inch HDTVs on the walls. It's a really nice place now. It sure didn't used to be.
Three Auburn freshmen who were sharing jersey numbers with veterans have gained their own identity today.
WR Chris Slaughter now is 23 (formerly shared 2 with Aairon Savage)
S Mike McNeil now is 26 (formerly shared 5 with Tommy Trott)
P Ryan Shoemaker is 21 (formerly shared 4 with Zac Etheridge)
Here is the first official Auburn depth chart of the season:
QB: Brandon Cox, Blake Field
FB: Carl Stewart, Danny Perry
TB: Brad Lester, Ben Tate -OR- Mario Fannin, Stewart
X (split end): R. Smith, James Swinton
W (slot receiver): R. Dunn, Tim Hawthorne -OR- Terrell Zachery
Z (flanker): Prechae Rodriguez, Slaughter
TE: Cole Bennett, Tommy Trott -OR- Gabe McKenzie
RT: Lee Ziemba, Antwoin Daniels
RG: Mike Berry, Chaz Ramsey
C: Jason Bosley, Ryan Pugh
LG: Tyronne Green, Byron Isom
LT: King Dunlap, Andrew McCain, Oscar Gonzalez
DE: Quentin Groves, Antonio Coleman
DT: Josh Thompson, Jake Ricks
DT: Pat Sims, Mike Blanc, Zach Clayton
DE: Sen'Derrick Marks, Mike Goggans
OLB: Merrill Johnson, Courtney Harden
MLB: Tray Blackmon, Chris Evans
OLB: Craig Stevens, Bo Harris
LCB: Jerraud Powers, Pat Lee, Walt McFadden
RCB: Jae Wilhite, Zach Gilbert
SS: Eric Brock -OR- Zac Etheridge
FS: Aairon Savage, Mike McNeil
K: Wes Byrum, Graham Sutter
P: Ryan Shoemaker, Patrick Tatum
KOR: Brad Lester/Mario Fannin, Pat Lee/Ben Tate (they work in twos)
PR: Robert Dunn, Chris Slaughter, Mario Fannin
ANALYSIS: I was pretty close. Ramsey at RG is a surprise because that's Leon Hart's slot. He hasn't practiced enough lately with the bum ankle. Slaughter as the No. 2 flanker is a bit of a surprise, just because some coaches seem so adamant that he isn't ready. You know who really isn't ready? Montez Billings.
Brock and Etheridge bracked at SS is a little surprising. I thought Etheridge was ahead. Zach Gilbert? I thought he was destined to become a second-team nickelback.