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Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011

Auburn football notes: Tigers focus on younger players

- abitter@ledger-enquirer.com
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AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn went to Jordan-Hare Stadium again Tuesday, using the half-practice, half-scrimmage to get another good look at its young players.

The Tigers ran roughly 30 plays of live 11-on-11 action, with freshman Kiehl Frazier getting all the reps at quarterback.

“This scrimmage was primarily designed for the young guys,” offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said. “Not just for Kiehl Frazier, but all the other young guys to see who is really ready once we get out against Utah State, and who needs a little more time.”

Frazier, a 6-foot-2, 220-pounder from Springdale, Ark., is competing with Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley for the starting job but is thought to be a longshot in the competition.

Still, the coaches are throwing as much as they can at Frazier during the camp portion of August practice.

“I know he’s more comfortable,” Malzahn said. “I don’t know if he’s completely comfortable. … We ask our quarterbacks to do a lot before the play. Then they’ve got to react, seeing different looks. The more experience you get, the better, and we’ve given him more reps by design to see where he’s at.”

Malzahn still gave no indication when a decision is coming in the quarterback battle, saying he’d like to pick someone “as soon as possible.”

Dyer out, Greene returns

Running back Mike Dyer continued to be held out of practice because of an injury. Despite rumors that it’s for other reasons, coach Gene Chizik reiterated that his workhorse back’s problems are physical.

”He’s beat up and banged up,” Chizik said, adding that the sophomore is getting better.

Dyer hasn’t practiced since at least last Friday with an undisclosed injury.

Asked if there was any reason to think Dyer won’t be ready to go for the opener, Chizik said, “I don’t have any reason to doubt that.”

Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes said tackle A.J. Greene practiced Tuesday. The senior had been out for at least a week with an undisclosed injury.

‘News to me’

Internet message boards buzzed when Ed Dismukes, father of Auburn freshman Reese, went on Mobile, Ala., radio Tuesday afternoon and said his son had won the starting center job.

“That’d be news to me,” Grimes said later at night.

Dismukes worked with the first team Tuesday but is still battling sophomore Blake Burgess for the starting job. Grimes said Burgess worked some at guard as well to help build depth.

Back from baseball

One-time four-star wide receiver and Alabama signee Melvin Ray has enrolled at Auburn and will begin classes today, according to recruiting websites, although he won’t be able to do anything football-related until next fall.

Ray, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound Tallahassee, Fla., native, signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers after being a 33rd round pick in 2008 instead of playing college football, but he left the sport after three minor league seasons last summer.

The 22-year-old will not be able to participate in football activities until fall of 2012, when he can join the team as a walk-on. He’ll have four years of eligibility remaining.

Warm welcome

Former Auburn golfer Jason Dufner is no stranger to Tigers football practices, but he never has gotten a reception like he did Monday.

One day after Dufner struggled down the stretch of the PGA Championship in Atlanta, blowing a four-shot lead with four holes to play and losing in a three-hole playoff to Keegan Bradley, he got an invite to the Auburn athletic complex.

“I walked into one of the auditoriums and the whole team was in there, and they gave me a standing ovation,” Dufner said at a press conference for the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C.

“So that’s pretty cool. … You wouldn’t expect a 320pound defensive lineman to be watching golf on Sunday, but they were.”

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