Gus Malzahn will know more about his football team after Auburn's opener against Louisville
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Coach Gus Malzahn says questions remain about his Auburn football team, but they may not be around for long.
"We'll know a lot more about our team," he said, "after Game One."
Game One is Saturday, at 2:30 p.m., against Louisville in Atlanta's Georgia Dome. It figures to be a welcomed sight after what will be five weeks of preseason practice.
Malzahn said the biggest question is: "'How are the inexperienced guys going to respond?'"
The inexperienced guys include, at least to some degree, new starting quarterback Jeremy Johnson, who played sparingly as Nick Marshall's backup the last two years; and running backs who have had limited carries presently headed by Roc Thomas, who was the third tailback in the pecking order last year.
"Roc got some quality carries last year at times, but the volume wasn't much," Malzahn said during Wednesday's SEC teleconference. "How are these guys going to handle the football? We've got two fullbacks who have never played in a game situation. We've got a new right guard. And even though Jeremy has experience, this is the first time that this is his team."
Malzahn pointed out the depth chart has eight freshmen on offense. And there are five freshmen on defense, and even more than that may play. The depth chart is here.
"And we have a couple of transfers, too. There are a lot of question marks," he said.
Malzahn said he's good with the freshmen because, he said, "most of those guys can play. We do have a young team. I do like the chemistry so far. I like their attitude. They want to be coached. They want to do what we ask. But there are a lot of question marks going into this first game. I think it will be a good measuring stick on where we're at."
Malzahn said Auburn worked "extremely hard in our passing game in the spring. We made some strides this fall, we've done a solid job with that."
But… "We're a run/play-action team. We run the football, and we need to be able to do that effectively, too. "
• Malzahn said defensive back (and one-time running back) Rudy Ford is "very excited" to be on the kickoff return team.
"He's worked very hard in that area. I'm very proud of Rudy."
• Malzahn said he'd name team captains this week.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine