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Auburn notebook: Duke Williams out, Carl Lawson in
Dec. 19, 2014

Carl Lawson is back at Auburn practice, working toward his return in 2015

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Auburn's first week of bowl practice has been good, particularly for young players who were thrown in the spotlight.

"The energy is the big thing. They're excited," said coach Gus Malzahn on Friday. "They're not on the scout team. They can show what they can do. It's just been a real positive energy level from those guys who have redshirted."

Auburn began bowl practice giving the young players a chance, but the latter part of the week has featured more game planning for the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl against Wisconsin. Auburn will practice Saturday before attending the funeral for Jakell Mitchell. The Tigers will wrap up their on-campus practice Sunday, then report in Tampa on Dec. 26. They'll begin bowl practice there the 27th.

Malzahn's last meeting with the media before heading to Tampa was noteworthy:

• Malzahn said players know new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp is watching.

"Our defensive players have responded. He's just trying to get to know our players, evaluate our current guys and our players have responded extremely well.

"They’re trying to impress him, trying to show what they can do. They're in evaluation mode and he's trying to evaluate what we have and thinking about next year and putting his pieces of the puzzle."

• Malzahn said receiver Duke Williams hasn't practiced this week. He's sick. Malzahn also said Williams is still deciding whether to turn pro.

• Defensive end Carl Lawson isn't going to play in the bowl game  he's been out all year with a knee injury  but has returned to practice.

"It's great to see him out there in pads and a helmet," Malzahn said. "I know he's got a big smile on his face. He's doing what he can do, but it's really good to have his presence out there and his leadership.

"He's ahead of schedule and looks really good doing the non-contact drills he’s been doing. We get in the spring and he'll be back to normal, we feel like. He's worked extremely hard to get back."
• Malzahn said all his players are academically eligible for the bowl game.

"I'm very proud of our guys, not just this year, but last year. They've done a very good job. Our academic support team has done a super job."

• Malzahn said Kamryn Pettway has looked good at H-back.

"He's got some pop. He's got some athletic ability. He's really been a bright spot with the young guys," Malzahn said.

• Tony Stevens has a chance to move up on the receiving depth chart next year.

"He's a guy that we recruited, we felt like had a lot of talent," Malzahn. "He did some good things for us last year as a freshman, and he’s a guy that we’ll definitely lean on in the future that we feel like has a lot of upside."

• Malzahn said he'd consider a position change for No. 3 quarterback Jonathan Wallace.

"We'll reevaluate everything after the bowl. Jonathan can play quarterback. He’s really coming on at wide receiver. He's a guy that we feel like we can count on. After we get done with the bowl, we'll be able to evaluate all that and get a good plan going into the spring."

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



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