Josh Holsey's season cut short by injury at Auburn
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Gus Malzahn's next-man-up philosophy will be in full force now that senior starting defensive back Josh Holsey will miss the rest of the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee.
Holsey suffered the injury early in last Saturday's game, forcing Auburn's young secondary to get even younger. The Tigers will take a secondary that prominently features three true freshman, a sophomore, two transfers and experienced Rudy Ford to Saturday's game against LSU.
Auburn started last week's game without three starters, and then lost two more. Auburn did solidify one position on the depth chart Tuesday, pushing leading rusher Peyton Barber to the top spot at running back.
Still, Malzahn said, "we're definitely been banged up. We've had some injuries but you've got to find a way to overcome it. We're always talking to our team about the next man up, about that No. 2 or No. 3 guy. You've got to be prepared when you're called upon, and we're going to be counting on some young guys. The positive with that is you've got a chance to grow and get better.
"We just need some young guys to step up and grow up pretty quick."
Auburn's secondary had two freshmen and sophomore Nick Ruffin on the field in overtime last Saturday.
Malzahn said Holsey, who has played in 31 games for Auburn, will be missed.
"That's a tough blow," Malzahn said. "He's an outstanding young man. It's the second time he's gone through this. We're definitely feeling for him.
"He's one of our team leaders, too. I know a lot of his teammates are hurting for him, not just on the field but the type of person he is. He's still going to be a part of this team. He's still going to be a leader. He's an outstanding young man who represents us the right way."
Holsey was the starting nickel cornerback last week. The offense was slowed, too, especially when right tackle Avery Young missed last week because of injury, forcing changes across an offensive line that already had a new look.
"We've got seven or eight new starters on offense," Malzahn said. "A lot of those new guys are playing new positions. We've gathered good information the first two games. We expect this offense to be a good offense. We expect to improve and that's what's going to happen."
The injuries have hurt on the field, but Malzahn said his Tigers are still in fine shape mentally.
"The bottom line is we're 2-0 and we start our conference play," he said. "Our guys know we didn't play our best, but they know we can play a whole lot better, and our coaches do, too. And we will. We expect to. That's behind us and we're looking forward to going to LSU. That's the way you look at it when you're in the moment and you're a coach or a player. That one's behind you and you look forward and you do everything you can to improve."
Malzahn also said…
• Auburn's Sunday's practice, the only one through Tuesday's midday press conference, was "a very, very good practice."
It had to be.
"You turn on the film against LSU, that'll get your attention in a hurry. Our guys are in a good spot. They had a good practice Sunday. We need to have a really good one today and tomorrow."
• Most of the injured players are "day to day." That includes defensive lineman Carl Lawson. But backup running back Jovon Robinson could play Saturday.
"He hurt his ankle in that first game. He practiced a little bit on Thursday, but he just wasn't ready to go," Malzahn said.
• Receiver Jason Smith could figure into the plans.
"He's one of those guys that we do need to figure out a way to get more involved, there's no doubt about that because he is explosive. That's kind of part of the process about the first two games and you have some good information to have a good plan moving forward."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine