We're one week in to fall practice, and three weeks away from the opening kick off. So what's been going on around the Auburn practice fields?
Charles Goldberg has a great article up on the defensive line situation and what may be done to alleviate the pain of losing Carl Lawson for most of the season. We may see Cassanova McKinzy rush off the end on some dime packages when he wouldn't normally be on the field. I expect JUCO transfer Devonte Lambert may also be called upon early to make a difference. Brandon Marcello from al.com says he's impressed coaches to the point that he may be the starter on one side of the line very soon. I'm very interested in seeing the Gabe Wright situation play out. If you haven't seen it already, Gabe has made some impressive strides in rebuilding his body from the time when Ryan Russell took over as strength and conditioning coach.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Pain & suffering! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EDD?src=hash">#EDD</a> <a href="http://t.co/XQJhPxzXO0">pic.twitter.com/XQJhPxzXO0</a></p>— Gabriel,wright (@NineORhino) <a href="https://twitter.com/NineORhino/statuses/491973043997392897">July 23, 2014</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Gabe worked at defensive end during spring practice and could see time there this fall. Particularly with the return of senior DT Jeff Whitaker to shore up the depth in the middle.
Elsewhere Brandon Marcello from al.com discusses who has stepped up to replace Tre Mason at RB. It's no surprise that Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant have been the standouts. I expect the RB situation will be much like it was early on last year: carries will be spread out over the first few games until someone really steps out as the bell cow. Though I hope all of them are talented enough to step up. One of the great advantages of the 2010 team was Auburn's ability to wear people down with Mario Fannin while using Dyer sparingly early on and then having a fresh Michael Dyer available to just pound the ball down people's throats to finish the game off. It would be very nice to have CAP and Corey to wear down defenses and then throw in Peyton Barber and/or Roc Thomas late on fresh legs to continue the punishment.
The offensive line has presented an interesting situation with the loss of Alex Kozan for the season and with some small injuries to Chad Slade that have held him out of practice. I suspect Slade will be just fine by the start of the season, but if he has issues, then Jordan Diamond may fill in somewhere along the line or you may see Braden "Paul Bunyon/Drago" Smith step in. If Smith is as special as coaches have made him out to be, I could see him going pro after three years. As I mentioned in my redshirting article a few weeks back, if you think you may lose him that quickly, then play him. Even if it's just late in mop-up duty or situationally to give him some game experience for next year so that he's able to help even more once he finally sees the field or in case he's needed if someone else on the line goes down.
It's behind the paywall over at AuburnUndercover, but Phillip Marshall has some great quotes from all of the position coaches after today's photo session. Some quick key things: Daniel Carlsson has cemented his position as Cody Parkey's replacement, and freshman Nick Ruffin has been getting work exclusively at the Star position. It sure is nice to read about the depth in the defensive backfield for a change. That could even be a position of strength on this year's team.
One week of practice down. Football is almost here. Keep hanging in there, everyone!