May 3, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN -- Gus Malzahn didn't write his depth chart in pencil. He didn't write it all. Auburn's head football coach offered his spring depth chart verbally this week with a touch of mystery. Were the players he mentioned for each position clearly identified as a starter and backup.
No. Yes. Maybe.
True enough, some positions have multiple players listed on top, though he didn't specific which positions, other than quarterback and tailback.
Here's an example of that when discussing quarterback Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace:
"We've not made any decisions. It's a dead heat up to this point," Malzahn said. "We gave them equal reps throughout the spring. Toward the end of the spring, we were able to evaluate them better. Both of those guys are capable of running our offense. I'll be curious to see their progress once we get to fall camp."
We listed earlier this week the depth chart in the order he mentioned each player. Then, we offered his comments about defensive players. Now, it's the offense's turn:
Left tackles Greg Robinson and Shon Coleman: Robinson started last season and Coleman was redshirted as he continues his comeback after beating cancer.
"Greg Robinson had a very good spring. I think everybody understands how athletic he is," Malzahn said. "We were very curious how Shon Coleman would come on. He got better and better. You can see his body is starting to react in a very positive way. We're very proud of Shon and his progression."
Left guards Alex Kozan and junior college transfer Devonte Danzey.
"Those are two guys that played a little bit of center, played a little bit of right guard and started settling down into that left guard position. Both those guys have a lot of ability," Malzahn said.
Center Reese Dismukes and Tunde Fariyke.
"Reese Dismukes probably had the best spring of any of the linemen up front. He showed a lot of leadership ability and really led the way," Malzahn said.
"Tunde also played center and we feel like he improved."
Right guards Chad Slade and Jordan Diamond.
"Chad Slade, the veteran guy that's played before. Jordan Diamond's a young guy and we kind of moved him around early, too, and he kind of settled down in there," Malzahn said. "He's a guy we feel like with a lot of potential that is a big, strong guy."
Right tackles Patrick Miller and Avery Young.
"Patrick Miller really improved throughout the spring. He's a very tough guy. Avery Young is a guy that couldn't go 100 percent because of his shoulder. He did a lot of stuff against the scout team but could not go full-tilt as far as his shoulder. But he's a very smart guy and a very athletic guy."
Quarterbacks Frazier and Wallace will be joined this summer by three new quarterbacks on scholarship. The chances of that either of the veterans were going to win the starting job this spring were always nil.
"Sometimes that's not a negative. Sometimes that's a positive and you've got two guys you feel like can do it," Malzahn said. "It's a matter giving everybody a fair chance. The quarterback position is a key position. You want to make sure that once you make a decision you're 100 percent right. We'll see who gives us the best chance to win."
On running backs Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant on the two-deep depth chart.
"I went ahead and put all three of these guys in here," Malzahn said. "We kind of know what Tre can do. He had an injury early in spring camp to his ankle, which allowed the other two guys to get a lot of reps and both of those guys. It was good for them. You saw Cameron. He had an outstanding spring game. He's one of those downhill guys that falls forward. Corey Grant had a very good spring, and he's a speed guy that, once he gets out in the open, it's hard to catch him."
H-back Jay Prosch "was one of the highlights of the whole spring. I'm talking about a hard-nosed guy," Malzahn said. "That's a dirty-work type position for us. It takes a smart guy."
Ricky Parks is Prosch's backup. "Ricky is a young guy who is coming on. I felt like he improved learning a new position," Malzahn said.
Tight end/Y receiver C.J. Uzomah "is a guy who is getting used to playing with his hand down. We worked hard on the blocking part. He's a threat vertically in the passing game."
Also slated as an inside receiver is Brandon Fuse and even Melvin Ray. The Y receiver is where Kodi Burns used to work.
Wide receiver/flanker Trovon Reed and Ricardo Louis.
"I felt like both had solid springs. That's a position where we ask them to do a little more than a regular receiver. That position needs to have running back skills. Both of those guys carried the football some during the spring."
Wide receiver/X position Jaylon Denson and Sammie Coates.
"Both those guys kind of settled into that position and at times made some very good plays. We talk about being consistent. Both of those guys are big, physical guys."
Slot receiver Quan Bray "is one of those real versatile guys. To take you back a couple years ago, he was actually playing the tailback positions. He's got some running back skills. You'll see us try to get the ball to him in space and let him do his thing as far as that goes."
So that's that? Not exactly.
"Like we told the guys, we've got you in positions where we feel like you can be successful. The key now is getting better over the summer," Malzahn said. "These young guys coming in are going to have a chance to compete for everyone one of these positions."
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