Sean White (above) took over as the starting quarterback for the Mississippi State game, but injuries kept him on the bench for the regular season finale vs. Alabama as well as other games.
Birmingham, Ala.--Gus Malzahn said on Thursday he hopes his Auburn Tigers will be back closer to full strength when bowl practice begins on Monday.
Injured quarterback Sean White (knee, foot), injured starting center Austin Golson (knee) and injured starting right tackle Avery Young (knee) have had time to get closer to full speed and could be ready for action when the Tigers face Memphis on Dec. 30th at Legion Field in the Birmingham Bowl.
Asked if White will be ready to play in the bowl game, Malzahn said, “I think so. He was getting healthier towards the end. We have had some time off. We are going to practice Monday and we will see how all of our guys are doing.
“We had some other guys who were banged up, too,” the football coach said. “Hopefully, those guys will be back ready to compete. We are really looking forward to those practices, too, not only for our older guys, but for our younger guys, too, for their development and everything that does with it.”
Malzahn said it is too early to reveal plans for how the defensive coaching staff will line up for the bowl game as he continues to look for a coordinator to replace Will Muschamp. There is another vacancy with secondary coach Travaris Robinson gone to South Carolina with Muschamp, who was named head coach there this week.
“The earlier the better, but at the same time this is a big decision,” Malzahn said of hiring Muschamp’s replacement.” We just want to make sure we get it right and we will. I am hoping by Monday to be able to tell everyone what our plan will be for the bowl.”
Malzahn had praise for Memphis and Paxton Lynch in particular. “We are playing one of the best offensive teams in college football,” he said. “We are playing one of the best quarterbacks, if not the best guy, for the next level. He is phenomenal. What stands out to me is his touchdown/interception ratio and not just this year, but last year.
“He protects the football and he has a got big arm,” Malzahn said. “He will throw the football from one hash to the sideline 20 yards down the field.
“Coach Dickey (Memphis interim head coach Darrell Dickey) was talking about how he threw seven touchdowns in one half to seven different receivers so we have got our work cut out for us,” said Malzahn, who added that he believes Memphis also does a good job of defending the run.
Malzahn pointed out that the 37-24 Memphis victory over Ole Miss has Auburn’s attention. “The fact they beat them, and beat them convincingly, they get your attention. It doesn’t matter what conference and all of that. You are talking about a very good team that has been in the Top 25 for the majority of the season. They were in the Top 15 for a long time.
“We are playing a very good team. Our players get that and so do our coaches.”
In other news and notes:
*Malzahn said that rumors that sophomore running back Roc Thomas is planning to transfer are “completely false.” He said that the only player planning to transfer is offensive lineman Will Adams, who will go to Georgia Tech as a graduate student.
Roc Thomas is a sophomore running back from Oxford High.
*Asked about losing offensive analyst Bobby Bentley, who is getting an on the field coaching job at South Carolina on Muschamp's staff, Malzahn said. “I am very happy for Bobby. Bobby was one of the best high school coaches in America. We have been friends for a long time. He is a big-time coach but an even better person. He is a good guy. He gets it and will be very successful.”
*Malzahn declined to say if his redshirt junior offensive tackles, Young or Shon Coleman, were getting NFL?evaluations about the possibility of leaving for the draft. “We do have a few who are trying to get their draft information,” he said, but wouldn’t name any particular player in the group.
*Asked if the Tigers plan to use all of their allotted 15 bowl practice dates, Malzahn said, “We are hoping so. We have a plan, but we haven’t planned strategically the way we are doing it. It's half getting our young guys developed and half getting prepared to play a very good team like Memphis. We feel very good about our plan. We think we'll get close to 15 or get 15 in.”