Auburn notebook: Tigers still searching for starting right tackle
by Ryan Black
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
Aug 09, 2013 | 1893 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AUBURN -- One week into preseason camp, Auburn isn't any closer to knowing the identity of its starting right tackle.

The two candidates battling for the job were both starters at the position last season. Avery Young was in the starting lineup for Auburn's first three games of 2012 before going down with a shoulder injury. Patrick Miller then stepped in and started the final nine games, and held down the position during the spring while Young recovered from surgery on his injured shoulder.

Getting back on the field and becoming reacclimated with the speed of the game is the most important thing for Young now.

"It's no different than shooting a 3-point shot," offensive line coach J.B. Grimes said. "If you go through a full year and you don't shoot 3s, your percentage shooting 3s isn't going to be a real good one the first time you go out there on the court. So we've just got to knock the rust off."

Both Young and Miller have seen time with the first-team offense during preseason practice, but Grimes said focusing on that would be a case of misplaced priorities.

"The No. 1 thing is just to get them both reps and evaluate," he said. "It's not, 'Who's No. 1 and who's No. 2?' It's how many reps they've had. That's the key component right now."

COMFORTABLE AT H-BACK: The light is starting to come on for Gage Batten.

After struggling during the first few practices of preseason camp, the former linebacker has started to turn the corner on grasping his responsibilities as an H-back. The redshirt freshman's improvement has been significant, according to his new position coach, Scott Fountain.

"These last two practices, he's really come on," Fountain said. "We felt like if we could bring him over (to the offense), he could be a good blocker for us on our power, our counter game. It's what we needed, and he's starting to show a lot of promise. I'm really excited for the young guy."

Batten's position change took on more importance after Ricky Parks was dismissed for a violation of team rules on the first day of preseason practice. Parks exited the spring as the Jay Prosch's backup. Fountain said if Batten was still on defense, it likely would have meant an increased role for both C.J. Uzomah and Brandon Fulse at H-back.

WIDE RECEIVER SEARCH: Wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig said every player in his unit has impressed since preseason camp began last week.

Therein lies the problem: With each receiver playing equally well, no one has stepped to the fore to become the Tigers' unquestioned go-to option, which Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee have repeatedly said needs to emerge.

"I think the guys are so competitive right now, there's not a lot of separation," Craig said. "Everybody is playing well. They're doing the things they're supposed to do -- the little things."

Of course, Craig joked, the receivers could make it easier on the coaching staff, too.

"We're just looking for that guy to go out there in practice and make five people miss and score a touchdown," he said. "Once you get that, you know, 'OK, that's the guy.' That wouldn't be bad."
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Auburn notebook: Tigers still searching for starting right tackle by Ryan Black
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