Cameron Newton's top backup, Barrett Trotter, suffered a knee injury while scoring a touchdown vs. ULM last Saturday. While the problem isn't a major one for the long run for a player who missed the entire 2009 season after having knee surgery, Malzahn and Gene Chizik said they don't know yet if the redshirt sophomore will be ready to play vs. the Wildcats.
Malzahn said he doesn't have doubts about Caudle's ability to direct the offense after spending the entire 2009 season as the No. 2 quarterback behind Chris Todd. "Neil is getting some work and Neil knows our system as well as anybody," the coach said.
"He has been in games and played at LSU last year so we have a lot of confidence in him," Malzahn added.
Asked if Caudle will likely be the No. 2 quarterback this week, Malzahn said, "We are still working through some things, but there is a decent chance that he would be on the field."
The ULM game was the college debut for redshirt freshman QB Clint Moseley, who came into the contest for the final series with three minutes left. "He did well and I know he is real excited,"?Malzahn said. "You could tell by the look in his eyes. He is a competitor, too, and I?think it was really good for him to get in there, get hit and get a feel what it feels like to be on the field on Saturday."
Commenting on what he saw on Tuesday night, Malzahn said, "Tuesday is going to be a physical practice, which is good. We kind of got in the mindset that Tuesdays we are going to get after it and it was another good one."
Newton said although the Tuesday practices are physical players on both offense and defense make sure they don't take cheap shots or do anything else that could risk an injury. "We are just trying to be smart and be a good football team, but at the same time practice very physically."
Newton wasn't on the team last year, but he understands what the game means to his teammates who were upset 21-14 by the Wildcats as Auburn lost to UK for the first time since the 1960s.
"You just feel everybody's energy out there on the football field," the quarterback said. "It is kind of personal for all of those guys who were here last year."
Newton said the video of last year's game is "disgusting" for the offense to watch.
Auburn doesn't have any players on its roster from the state of Kentucky and none of the current Tigers have played the Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. Wide receiver Emory Blake lived for six years across the Ohio River from the Bluegrass State when his father, quarterback Jeff Blake, was a star player for the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals.
Last year as a freshman Blake caught nine passes for 66 yards with one start and he played as a reserve in 10 other games. As a sophomore he has caught seven passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns, including a school-record longest play from scrimmage on 94 yards last week vs. ULM.
Blake said he believes his team benefitted from the 52-3 non-conference victory last Saturday, but added that the Tigers realize the rest of the month of October includes tougher tests.
"Starting this week at Kentucky we play four SEC games in a row so this is an important part of the schedule for us,"?he said.
"We are looking forward to going some place where we haven't been and see a new SEC stadium," he noted. "We are also forward to playing better against Kentucky because our memories of our game with them last year are not good.
"I remember thinking that night after we lost (21-14) that was a game we should not have lost," Blake added.
The receiver added that he has respect for the Wildcats. "They played really well against us last year," he said. "The only big difference I see from looking at their offense is that they lost some of their good linebackers from last year."
Blake said the Wildcats play hard and are physical and his team will need to perform well to come out of Lexington with its sixth win of the season.
Despite his improved personal numbers compared to last year, Blake said he is looking for ways to get better. "I feel good about the way I am playing, but I?am not satisfied," he said.
Blake races for the end zone on his 94-yard pass play vs. ULM.
Like they did last season when Blake played as a true freshman, Gene Chizik and his staff have not been shy about using members of the 2010 signee class this year.
The Kentucky game will mark the midseason point of the regular season schedule and so far Chizik has used 14 true freshmen and two junior college transfers. The freshmen who have played includes defensive tackle Kenneth Carter, linebacker Jessel Curry, cornerback Chris Davis, tailback Michael Dyer, wide receiver Antonio Goodwin, linebacker Jake Holland, receiver/H-back Shaun Kitchens, defensive end Corey Lemonier, safety Demetruce McNeal, kicker Cody Parkey, wide receiver Trovon Reed, defensive end Craig Sanders, safety Ryan Smith and defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker.
Juco transfer Newton is starting at quarterback and juco transfer Brandon Mosley is expected to make his third Auburn start this week at right offensive tackle. Malzahn said that Mosley continues to make progress as a tackle.
In other news:
*Malzahn said he liked what he saw from senior running back Mario Fannin in the ULM game. Fannin has been dealing with a shoulder injury, but said on Tuesday his shoulder is feeling better. "Mario played very physical Saturday--he protected physically and ran the ball physically," Malzahn said.
*Chizik said the Wildcats look a lot like the team that upset Auburn 21-14 last year at Jordan-Hare Stadium to snap UK's 15-game losing streak to Auburn. "They're a very physical football team and offensively, they're extremely explosive as you would imagine," he stated.
"Defensively, they're very aggressive and very sound as they were last year. I don't see a whole lot of differences as a team. They're just a very good team."
*Kentucky is ranked in the Top 25 nationally in four categories this week. The Wildcats are seventh in fewest sacks allowed with 0.40 per game. They are eighth in pass defense giving up 141.80 yards per contest. Kentucky is 21st in scoring offense at 36.49 points per game. The Cats are averaging 453.60 yards in total offense, which is 25th nationally.
*Kentucky senior tailback is averaging Derrick Locke 181.4 all purpose yards per game to lead the SEC. That also ranks him sixth nationally this week. He has had more than 100 yards either rushing or passing in all five games this season.
*Kentucky has just six wins in 31 football games vs. Auburn. There has been one tie in the series. UK's last victory over Auburn in Lexington came by a score of 17-7 in 1966.