Auburn's Carl Lawson had Tennessee's number last season
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ¯ Carl Lawson can't go because of off-season knee surgery, but it's not for a lack of trying.
The Auburn defensive end still dreams of playing this season.
"I'm really not letting my mind go there," said coach Gus Malzahn on Wednesday. "We're planning on playing without him, and if it works out, we'll go from there."
Lawson had ACL surgery on May 1. He made an impact last season as a freshman with 4½ sacks, the second highest total on the team; and 7½ tackles for a loss, the fourth best total.
"His rehab is going very well," Malzahn said. "He's worked extremely hard, but, of course, we knew that. He's the type you worry about working too hard to come back, but he's doing well. He's on schedule, so we'll just see what that means later in the season.
"The main thing is he's got to be 100 percent healthy, whenever that is. We'll see how that goes."
Malzahn also said after Wednesday's practice for Saturday's game against San Jose State…
• On playing freshman running back Roc Thomas on Saturday after not playing him against Arkansas: "That is a possibility. We went with the two older guys (Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant) Saturday, and Peyton (Barber) got some work towards the end. As the season goes on, you can’t have enough depth at the tailback position in our league. We understand that."
And whether Auburn plans to redshirt Thomas: "You never know how that goes, but at this point, we’re planning on playing him."
• On Wednesday's practice: "We had a solid practice again, which is very encouraging. The guys had good energy, good focus, very comparable to last week. We feel like we’re in a good spot. Obviously, we have to improve from week one to week two, but so far the guys have really been attentive and done a good job in practice to get that done."
• On learning with a veteran team: "It’s great, especially with a first game. Even though we had a lot of guys coming back, we had some that moved positions and all that. There are things you learn during the first game that you don’t know, that you can’t learn during the spring or during the fall camp. That’s why we have really been focusing on the mistakes we made and really worried about us, getting better at what we do and trying not to make the same mistake twice."
• On playing non-conference San Jose State after opening against SEC rival Arkansas: "We're approaching it exactly like we did last year. We are concerned about us getting better and improving each week. It doesn't make any difference who we're playing. Last year, our team was able to do that. The challenge this year, we'll see. But so far, these guys have responded well in practice. I expect they'll be ready to play."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer on AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine