Robenson Therezie (above) started all 14 games last season at the "star" rover position.
Auburn, Ala.--Gus Malzahn didn’t do much to clear up senior Robenson Therezie’s status with the Auburn football team following Saturday’s practice, a 90-minute workout in full pads at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“We are working through some eligibility issues right now with him now,” Malzahn said about Therezie. “We should know more in the near future. When we find out I will definitely let you know. That is all I am going to say about that.”
Earlier in the week Auburn's defensive coordinator, Ellis Johnson, mentioned that Therezie was getting limited work in practice because the coaches didn't know if he would be available to play when the Tigers open the season.
Asked how much of a loss it would be to not have Therezie available to play at the “star” position, Malzahn said, “The fact that obviously he is a returning starter, but the good thing is that Justin Garrett was a starter before he got hurt (last season) and was the MVP of our spring (2013) before.”
Malzahn said that T.J. Davis and Mackenro Alexander are getting work at the “star” position along with linebackers. Davis has moved around between safety and cornerback, the position he was playing to open preseason drills.
True freshman quarterback Sean White got most of the snaps in Saturday’s session, including the 11 on 11 contact work with the backups at the end of practice. Malzahn said that White has jumped junior Jonathan Wallace on the depth chart and will go into the season No. 3 behind Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson.
“He earned it, he is very accurate,” Malzahn said of White. “Of course, we knew that when we recruited him, but you never know how they handle everything else that goes with the position, but I believe the couple scrimmages he has been live he runs better than everybody thinks, and you know, you can really evaluate a quarterback when they are live, and I really feel like he has gotten better.”
Johnson is expected to start the opener because of a discipline issue with Marshall, the returning starter. However, Marshall is expected to play vs. Arkansas, but Malzahn has not said when that will happen or even who the starter will be except to note it won’t be Marshall.
“It was really good to see those guys in some different situations,” the head coach said of Saturday’s practice at the stadium that included work on the two-minute offense. “We gave Sean White quite a bit of reps today. I thought he has really responded well.”
Asked if the Tigers plan to play White or redshirt him this season, Malzahn said, “We’ll see. I mean obviously in a perfect world you redshirt a guy, but you never know. We run our quarterbacks and so you never can have enough quarterbacks. I know Coach Lashlee is working hard to get him ready.”
Asked about why Wallace got passed on the depth chart, Malzahn said, “Jonathan's a solid quarterback, but Sean is very accurate. I mean, he can really throw it, and he’s been very impressive.”
Malzahn also noted that redshirt freshman Daniel Carlson will handle the punting duties in addition to kicking off, kicking field goals and kicking extra points.
“He is going to start the first game and like any other position you see how the season goes. Right now, he won the job and he has been very impressive.”
The Tigers will practice again on Sunday, the final workout before fall semester classes begin on Monday.
“We had a lot of special teams today,” Malzahn said. “We are getting closer to identifying. We did have some two-minute situations that we definitely needed to do with referees and everything that goes with that. We worked extremely hard on pace today since it was hot. It was a good session with that.”
The coach noted it was good to see the backups in action and said they were one of the focuses “just to give them one last chance before school starts to show what they can do to see who got better, who is ready to play.” He added, “We gathered some really good information as far as that goes.”
The position move of Trovon Reed from wide receiver to cornerback looks like it is going to work out for the Tigers, especially with the wide receiver position in good shape with plenty of talented players.
Melvin Smith, who coaches the cornerbacks, said with more players to work with this year the defensive coaches have more options in the secondary and they plan to take advantage of that.
“I have got a lot of good possibilities we didn’t have last year,” Smith said, noting that Reed is one of them.
“Trovon is in our two-deep and we are going to play more than two corners,” Smith said. “I see him as being a guy we are going to play.”
Smith noted that he believes the Tigers will go into the opener in good shape at his position. “We should have a solid two deep with extras,” he said.
In other news and notes:
*Malzahn said the Tigers have not finalized who their returners will be. He noted that Quan Bray, Stephen Roberts, Marcus Davis and Therezie returned punts on Saturday while a half dozen players are getting looks on kickoff returns. Forrest Hill is expected to be the deep snapper on punts and field goals.
*Johnson, who started one game at quarterback last season when Marshall was injured, said he feels comfortable in that role and handling the quarterback duties. “I have been working on the zone read more,” he said. “I'm hitting more check downs and calling the right protections and getting everybody in the right position.”