Auburn players head to Tuesday's scrimmage in Jordan-Hare Stadium
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ¯ Auburn's second scrimmage of the preseason was another audition for newcomers, punters and kickers.
Feeling good about his veterans, coach Gus Malzahn ran a 50-or-so-play scrimmage Tuesday in Jordan-Hare Stadium devoted to younger players.
"It's getting to that point we've got to identify the guys we feel like can help us, not just offensively and defensively, but special teams. You have to mesh all of that together when you're thinking through personnel," Malzahn said.
"I'm not going to name names right now, but there are probably four or five specifically on defense, four or five specifically on offense, and they're all new guys. We've got good information from the spring, and last fall on a lot of the guys."
Time is running out on the newcomers. Malzahn said he's not sure if Auburn will scrimmage again before opening against Arkansas on Aug. 30.
Quarterback Nick Marshall didn't scrimmage because he didn't need to, Malzahn said. Jeremy Johnson, Sean White and Tucker Tuberville took the snaps. But a lot of the practice was devoted to special teams because Auburn has not identified who will punt and there's still competition to return punts and kickoffs.
Malzahn said Marshall knows the offense well enough, so he worked on third-and-long plays and special situations.
"He's getting everything he needs," Malzahn said.
He said Auburn has spent much of the preseason working the first-team offense against the first-team defense, and that's when you'll find Marshall running the show.
"We know what we have with him. Then, at the same time, we want to figure out the other quarterback situation, too."
Jeremy Johnson will be the backup quarterback, except on opening day when he'll get the start while Marshall watches because of an off-the-field incident over the summer. Malzahn said offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee is looking at all his quarterbacks.
"Coach is putting pressure on all the quarterbacks. I'm helping with that, too," Malzahn said. "We need the quarterbacks making great decisions, knowing what to do, when to do it, how to do it. That's part of playing the quarterback position. We have high expectations for Jeremy. He played last year. He went through spring. He's getting a lot of reps in fall camp."
The special teams work turned to punters Jimmy Hutchinson, Daniel Carlson, Tyler Stovall and Matthew Shiel. Carlson may win that job and handled kickoffs and field goals, too.
"It's always different when you got live bodies coming at you. Some people react in a good way. Some people react in not-so-good way," Malzahn said. "It's just feeling that real pressure of having people around, that's close to being blocked and everything that goes with that. That's what this day was for, primarily special teams. But at the same time, who can block for the punt? Who can cover and make a tackle? Who can return one? It was a really good time to evaluate our guys."
Overall, Malzahn said, "it was a good evaluation out there. It was really good work and we gained a lot of valuable information.
"There were a couple of guys we really wanted to watch to see what they could do offensively, defensively and special teams. That's two scrimmages down, and as coaches we have some good information. That was the positives today."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine