By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn coach Gus Malzahn says he has confidence a healthy Carl Lawson will disrupt opposing offenses this season.
In fact, he's positive of it.
"I'm not curious. I know what he can do," Malzahn said Tuesday. "He's healthier than he's ever been, and he's an impact player. We expect him to play well, and I know he expects himself to play well, too. He's in a good spot."
Lawson has been limited to seven games and 17 tackles the last two seasons because of a knee injury, then a hip injury, but he says he's ready to go. He's paired at defensive end with true freshman Marlon Davidson as a starter on the depth chart that was released Tuesday as Auburn heads to Saturday's opener against Clemson at 8 p.m. Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The work of Lawson and Davidson is part of good August run by the defense, Malzahn said.
"We've had a very good camp," he said.
*Starting safety Stephen Roberts has been suspended for the first game, but Malzahn said he has confidence the other defensive backs will do well.
"I do feel good about the secondary that we do have back there, specifically the safeties, the position that he played. We've had a good fall camp. Our defense is going to have to do a good job throwing off their timing."
*Offensively, "we've also had a very good fall camp. We have some inexperience in some areas. We're looking forward to watching this group in this first game. We're playing a very good defense. We're excited to watch these guys get out there and do their thing. Overall, we're excited this is game week.
"This will be a good measuring stick of where we're at, playing one of the best teams in the country on our home field."
*Sixteen freshmen and sophomores have a chance to start, according to the depth chart released Tuesday. One of the redshirt freshman is Prince Tega Wanogho, a player with limited football experience who was on defense last season.
Suddenly, he's second team to Robert Leff at right tackle.
"He's got a lot of potential," Malzahn said. "We're hoping after a short period of time as the season goes, he'll be more game ready. He's very talented. He's a smart guy. He's done a good job We've been very impressed with him."
*Will Hastings has impressed in fall camp, too. The sophomore receiver is listed as a potential starter with Stanton Truitt at one of the receiver spots.
Hastings, known as kicker last season, had 113 catches for 2,040 yards as a senior at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock.
"He's just a guy that we played around in the spring," Malzahn said. "He played wide receiver in fall camp and has just really done a good job. He's in the mix, and he's got a chance to be a solid player."
*Auburn will probably name its team captains Thursday, Malzahn said.
*He also said defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and offensive line coach Herb Hand will be up top in the coaches' box during games.
*Freshman running backs Kam Martin and Malik Miller will play on special teams early, but look for their roles to grow.
"I've been impressed with both of them," Malzahn said. "They'll definitely play on special team and on certain things at running back."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine