Gus Malzahn says the race for some starting assignments continue
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Coach Gus Malzahn revealed his Auburn depth chart Tuesday, announcing a starting running back, keeping five starting positions open and saying a lot of players will see action even they're not listed at No. 1.
Examples? One of the starting linebacker spots is listed as Cassanova McKinzy or Tre' Williams.
"I wouldn't read too much into the 'or,'" Malzahn said Tuesday after the depth chart was released. "You'll see multiple guys this first game."
Check out the complete depth chart and more details of it in our earlier story here.
How about Roc Thomas as the starting running back and Peyton Barber and Jovon Robinson as co-backups?
"I wouldn't read anything between that," Malzahn said. "You're going to see us play all three of them, and we've got some question marks as coaches. We'd like to see them in game situations now and, hopefully, someone will rise to the top."
Malzahn will get to see how the Tigers perform in Saturday's season-opener against Louisville at 2:30 p.m. in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Transfers Austin Golson at center, Blake Countess at cornerback and Tray Matthews at safety are all listed as starters.
Thomas won the starting job after a fall competition that also involved Barber, Robinson and freshman Kerryon Johnson.
"He's definitely gotten bigger. He's kept his speed. He’s more comfortable now, he knows what’s going on," Malzahn said. "We've seen him grow, not just this spring, but more importantly in the fall."
He'll provide the run support, and pass protection, for new starting quarterback Jeremy Johnson. The starting H-back spot remained opened between Kamryn Pettway and Chandler Cox. Freshman Jalen Harris is the starting tight end. The higher-profile wide receiver starts belong to Ricardo Louis and Melvin Ray, and either Duke Williams or Tony Stevens.
Either Alex Kozan or Devonte Danzy will start at left guard. Both will play.
Justin Garrett is listed as one of the starting linebackers. Veterans McKinzy and Kris Frost are battling for the other two linebacker spots with Tre' Williams, who is listed as a potential starter at two linebacker spots for defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.
"With what Will does, they compete every day," Malzahn said. "We'll see what happens once we get out there and play and see who’s playing well and go from there."
No decision was needed at one important position: Malzahn named Jeremy Johnson his starting quarterback months ago, and nothing changed.
"It has been good that we've known who our starting quarterback is going to be since spring. I think it's been good for him, too, and for his teammates," Malzahn said. "We feel like he's prepared. I know he's to the point, he's tired of everybody talking about him. He just wants to get out there and play. He wants to prove himself. I think he's in a very good spot mentally right now going into this first game."
Malzahn announced redshirt freshman receiver Myron Burton has left the team.
"It was a mutual decision, and we wish him nothing but the best," Malzahn said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine