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Auburn notebook: Comings and goings and Braden Smith
Oct. 21, 2014

Braden Smith sizes things up at an Auburn practice

By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala.  Auburn's Avery Young said he doesn't know if he'll play guard or tackle against South Carolina on Saturday, but he knows this: Braden Smith may get a chance to help out in that offensive line.

Make that freshman Braden Smith.

"That's not a kid, that's a man," Young reminded the media Tuesday of his 6-foot-6, 300-pound-someting teammate.

Auburn is playing it cool leading up to the game, but coach Gus Malzahn said Smith will receive more playing time in the offensive line, and the defensive line is still looking for the right combination to provide a better pass rush.

Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. in Jordan-Hare Stadium and the game will be televised by the SEC Network.

Malzahn said Smith "had a very good week of practice last week. He'll be a factor moving forward. I'm not ready to say starting, but he has the ability to give us depth and help us.

"We definitely have confidence in him, especially now that he's got experience and we've actually seen him on the field against other opponents. We do have confidence in him, that if we put him in there, he can effectively execute."

Malzahn talked of other coming and goings of his players, such as…

• Safety Jermaine Whitehead returned to practice Sunday. He was suspended after the second game of the year for an undisclosed reason. Malzahn said he wasn't sure when Whitehead would play.

"He's going to do everything he can to try to earn himself back on the field," Malzahn said.

• Freshman receiver Stanton Truitt had shoulder surgery and will miss the rest of the season. He played in two games and had two catches for 13 yards. Malzahn said Auburn will seek a medical redshirt for him.

"That's a guy that was coming on," Malzahn said. "We just wanted to do the right thing and get that fixed."

Truitt is from Atlanta.

• Auburn practiced Sunday, but the first full-scale practice was Tuesday after a bye week.

"The off-week last week was very good for us," Malzahn said. "It came at a good time, not just to heal up but to really get a good plan together as far as the last six games.

"We are playing a very good South Carolina team that I think is very talented. It's a veteran team. They were ranked in the Top 10 preseason for a reason. They had a big win against a very good Georgia team, so we're expecting really to get their best."

• In a recurring storyline, look for freshman tailback Roc Thomas to play more.

"We felt good about Cameron Artis-Payne, with the way he ran," Malzahn said. "But we do have a strategic plan for the second half, and Roc will have a bigger role in the second half."

• A prediction the passing game will improve.

"I think overall we've done some good things in the passing game. At times, we've been inconsistent with certain aspects but I think all of them are correctable," Malzahn said.

"I think as the second half of the season gets here we can be more efficient and more effective."

• On the rough-and-tough SEC West.

"It's the best conference in college football probably by a long shot, so whoever wins the West will have a big advantage," Malzahn said.

• Oh, and that pass rush. Malzahn said defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson is working on that.

"That's something that we feel like we need to improve on. Ellis has got a good strategy moving forward with that. That was something that we've worked hard on."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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