Auburn, Ala.--When the fifth-ranked Auburn Tigers take on Louisiana Tech this Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m., they will once again be without the services of senior safety Jermaine Whitehead. Suspended for the Kansas State game, Coach Gus Malzahn said on Tuesday that the indefinite suspension continues and he added that you won’t see him on the sidelines.
“Nothing has changed,” Malzahn said concerning Whitehead.Auburn will also be without sophomore offensive lineman Jordan Diamond, but he will be for the remainder of the season after he was scheduled to undergo surgery on Tuesday. Without him the Tigers will likely have to do some shuffling on the second-team offensive line, something Malzahn said they will look at this week.
“Jordan Diamond had surgery and he will be out for this year,” Malzahn said. “That’s unfortunate. He’s a good player and a great person. It’s another loss up front.”
This week is a good opportunity for the Auburn offense to get back untracked against Louisiana Tech. With former Mississippi State and Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz calling the shots, the Bulldogs are expected to employ a similar strategy to Kansas State, sending players to the line of scrimmage to make the Tigers throw the football.
That means more execution in the passing game from quarterback Nick Marshall and company, but while Marshall gets much of the blame for the misses in that department Malzahn said it’s up to the entire offense to get the job done and that starts this week.
“It’s everyone,” Malzahn said. “For whatever reason the focus is always on our quarterback and ‘what’s wrong with Nick?’ There’s not a whole lot wrong with Nick. There are a couple of things that we expect him to be really, really good at, and if we’re not we’re going to get on him. But, what the casual eye doesn’t see is that everything around him needs to be right. The wide receivers need to be at the right depth. We need to have the right protection. Everything needs to be right.
“The bottom line is our quarterback wins,” he added. “He knows how to win. If you compare him to all the other quarterbacks around the country when the game is on the line, we’ve got the best guy. He’ll continue to work, but we have a lot of confidence in him.”
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One of the players Auburn has been tied to possibly recruiting is former Georgia defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor. Arrested on charges of aggravated assault and family violence this summer, he was dismissed by the Bulldogs at that time and is now at Copiah-Lincoln Junior College in Mississippi. Auburn is one of the schools he has reached out to hoping to get a second chance at major college football.
Malzahn can’t comment specifically on individual recruits, but was asked about the recent domestic violence problems in the NFL and his thoughts on the subject. He left very little doubt where he stands on the subject, agreeing with Steve Spurrier about a zero-tolerance policy on the issue.
“There’s no doubt about that,” Malzahn said. “I would expect most programs around the country have that.”
In terms of recruiting players with a history of domestic violence, Malzahn said the same standards hold true.
“There’s no doubt,” Malzahn added. “You don’t go there.”