Well, we are going in to the Ole Miss game with a week off… and coaches are doing what coaches are paid to do. Evaluate. And reconfigure the lineup to ensure the best people are on the field. And that is exactly what Gus Malzahn and his staff have done on the Plains.
I wish I could report monumental changes… like a new QB that could actually hit a receiver in stride or a linebacker who could melt steel with their fiery stare… and then rip flesh off with their tackles. But alas… I cannot. Sorry folks. The bench is bare at Auburn. But you knew that already.
But there is news to report:
The biggest news? On defense. Now starting at defensive tackle… after more than three seasons at Defensive end… Nosa Eguae. Last year… he had 4 tackles. Odd you say? Well not so. This occurred because apparently junior Angelo Blackson, widely considered the team’s best tackle has been moved off the two deep charts completely. Demoted. I have no idea what got him in the dog house… and considering who the defensive line coach is… that is one heck of a house to be in.
Gus’s comments about Nosa? “He’s a guy you can count on. He’s going to do what he’s coached to do,” Malzahn said. “That has a lot to do with it. He’s a veteran guy. He’s played a lot of snaps. He’s one of the few guys from our 2010 championship team that played. He’s an experienced guy who we can count on. We’ve played a lot of guys up front. We’ll continue to play a lot of guys up front.”
Other big news? On Offense – Brandon Fulse has taken over the “5” /utility receiver position previously manned by Jaylon Denson who suffered a season ending knee injury during the game at LSU. His understudy? Melvin Ray. Ray is an interesting fellow because like Corey Grant he signed at bama in 2008 but walked on at AU in 2011.
Toney Stevens and Sammie Coates at “9” receiver. The news? Stevens is a freshman. He made his first career catch at Baton Rouge two weeks ago. He is 6 foot 4 and 190 pounds. This action is exactly what Gus has wanted… he has been searching for playmakers.
Off the depth chart completely with no explanation: Chris Davis and Craig Sanders. Defensive Coordinator Ellis Johnson said that he expected all of his major contributors to be ready for Ole Miss. Regardless, it’s surprising that these two are not in the lineup. But dollars to donuts they play this weekend.
Other’s not making the two deep roster?
Ricardo Louis is nowhere to be seen. Coaches say that he has tremendous upside but he definitely isn’t maximizing his opportunities so far this season. Regardless, the sophomore is tied for the team lead with 11 receptions.
Can we expect anything different this week besides these changes?
The Rebels are a spread team without a true power back, so the Tiger’s defensive needs are a bit different than usual. Look for Dee Ford, Ladarius Owens, Eguae and Bradley to be on the quick side trying to disrupt Bo Wallace’s throws.
No changes at OL or LB. One of the team strengths so far this year is the offensive line. And that is true after four games. The OL is getting better game by game. And that is important for a young team. And Ellis Johnson still has maintained a generally favorable opinion of Jake Holland, Kris Frost, and Cassanova McKinzy. I think this is mainly because there is no one else available to play at the SEC level. These young men are the best we have.
This game is going to test these young Tigers. If our defense can’t get to Wallace… expect a long, long day on the Plains. Ole Miss will have their way and win by +7. But if this defensive front can get to Wallace… and rattle him at least… and then, if our offensive line can open up running lanes for the backs to get our running game established, then we are in a competitive match. Auburn might be able to pull off a win and secure its place in the middle of the pack. And after 2012 that would be huge.
War Eagle! Beat Ole Miss!