Auburn's Roc Thomas leads the chase last time out against San Jose State
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Gus Malzahn has been testing his offense in practice the last two weeks, from opening up the competition at quarterback, to looking at some speedy guys to deliver explosive plays.
Hello, Jeremy Johnson, Sean White, Peyton Barber, Roc Thomas and Kerryon Johnson, who were among the players that Auburn's head coach mentioned during his appearance on the university's Tiger Talk radio show Monday night.
Malzahn said he'd probably make a decision on his starting quarterback after Tuesday's practice "just to let our guys know" as the Tigers move toward their Thursday night game at Kentucky.
The contenders: Sean White, who started the last two games; and Jeremy Johnson, who started the first three.
"Sean White has done a very good job. He hasn't done anything from keep from winning it, but, at the same time, we felt like Jeremy needed the opportunity to redeem himself and to get back in there," Malzahn said. "It's been good competition. Both of the guys have improved. It's been very healthy."
Malzahn said Johnson likely benefitted from watching the last two games.
"He got a chance to look at things from a different standpoint. He got a chance to go back to basics in practice. I think it's been really good for him," Malzahn said.
More on the quarterbacks here.
Auburn has been searching for explosive plays because the lack of them has "been our Achilles heel," Malzahn said.
"We have little to none explosive plays. We've got to do a better job to find ways to get more explosive plays in the pass game and the run game.
"That's been a major focus the last two week."
Enter Barber, the steady running back who has 558 yards in five games; plus the aforementioned Roc Thomas and Kerryon Johnson.
"Roc is an explosive guy," Malzahn said. "He can run hard. He made some explosive plays in the pass game and the run game. Kerryon Johnson is a guy who has that ability to make big plays. We feel good about our tailback position."
Malzahn also said the receiver position is moving forward without Duke Williams. Malzahn mentioned Ricardo Louis, Marcus Davis and Jason Smith, who is "starting to get a little more comfortable."
And, he said, "Tony Stevens is a guy in the last week that has really caught my eye the way he's practiced."
Malzahn said Devonte Danzey would be the "first one in there" at center should something happen to starter Austin Golson. Malzahn said earlier Monday that backup center Xavier Dampeer would miss an extended period of time with an injury.
Malzahn also said Avery Young could move over to center if necessary.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine