Auburn notes: Tiger linebacker Cassanova McKinzy suffers neck injury

rblack@ledger-enquirer.com Anniston StarOctober 5, 2013 

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn weakside linebacker Cassanova McKinzy went down on the final play of the first quarter and was immobilized and carted off the field after a lengthy delay.

McKinzy was chasing Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace on the play and appeared to grab him from behind when Auburn defensive tackle Montravius Adams swept around from the front and leg-whipped him.

Auburn officials announced that McKinzy was being treated for a neck injury, but that he had feeling in his extremities. He was transported to the East Alabama Regional Medical Center in Opelika, Ala.

He returned to the stadium during the second half and was wearing a neck brace on the sidelines.

In his postgame press conference, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn didn't have enough information to provide an immediate update on McKinzy's condition.

"I’ll find out a little bit more, but it’s a good sign that he was up walking around and cheering," Malzahn said. "It was scary when you go out there and a player’s having trouble moving. That’s a scary deal.”

The sophomore entered the game as Auburn's second-leading tackler with 21, four behind "Star" Robenson Therezie.

Off the charts

Auburn showed how little the depth chart can mean on Saturday.

Despite not being listed on its updated two-deep on Wednesday, Chris Davis made his return to the starting lineup versus Ole Miss. The senior corner missed the Tigers' past two games with what was thought to be an ankle injury, though the team never disclosed the nature of his ailment.

In his absence, Ryan White started Auburn's past two contests opposite Jonathon Mincy.

Davis didn't take long to make his presence felt, finishing with six tackles (five solo), tied for third-most on the team.

"We weren’t for sure he was even going to play, and he played very well," Malzahn said. "He’s one of our leaders when he is on the field, and it helps.”

The other change to Auburn's starting lineup Saturday night came on the defensive line. Gabe Wright reclaimed his starting spot at one of the Tigers' tackle spots, moving back ahead of Ben Bradley.

The Carver alum took the field with the first-team defense in the season opener versus Washington State but was overtaken by the Norcross native beginning with the Arkansas State game and continuing through the Mississippi State and LSU contests.

Wright finished with four tackles (three for loss) and two sacks. The junior's biggest play came on the Rebels' last offensive possession, as he took down Wallace on a seven-yard sack.

"There's not a better feeling than a sack," he said. "I can tell you that right now."

Another position for Frazier

When you've played in as many spots as Kiehl Frazier, what's one more?

After warming up with the receivers during Saturday's pregame, the junior made a brief appearance in the slot during the second quarter. He also caught passes with receivers prior to the Mississippi State game, but only entered as a "Wildcat" quarterback.

Frazier led Auburn in passing yards last season with 753, but dropped out of the team's four-way quarterback race during fall camp and moved to safety. However, he has yet to take the field with the defense this season.

Military appreciation

For the second straight year, Auburn held a Military Appreciation Day, honoring those on active duty as well as those who once served in the armed forces.

Prior to kickoff, the Black Diamond jet team conducted a pregame flyover at the controls of Aero L39 Albatross jets. Four members of the Wounded Warriors also took part in the pregame coin toss at midfield, while multiple Auburn University veterans were recognized throughout the night.

The Auburn University Marching Band took on a military theme for its halftime performance, which incorporated veterans from each branch of the armed forces.

The Tigers' coaching staff also showed its support, donning military appreciation patches on the sleeve of their shirts.

Booing their own

Boos were heard as Auburn's starting defense was announced over the Jordan-Hare Stadium public address Saturday, and they came after the name of mike linebacker Jake Holland was announced.

It's unusual to hear home fans boo one of their own players, let alone a non-quarterback.

Holland entered Saturday's game as Auburn's sixth-leading tackler with 17. He's a senior and third-year starter (he had six starts in 2011).

But he's often seen as a liability for Auburn's defense, especially against the run, begging the question, why does he continue to start?

One assumes the answer, and it might be disquieting for Auburn fans. Auburn's coaches clearly believe they don't have a better option at that position.

Cancer-free Evans

Before Saturday's game, Auburn women's golf coach Kim Evans was introduced as "cancer-free" and applauded. Wearing a cap, she waved to the crowd.

Evans underwent five months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in May. On Wednesday, doctors informed her that she's cancer-free.

Evans has coached Auburn's women's golf team for 20 years and plans to return to work, though it's uncertain when.

The team, which finished sixth at the NCAA championships in the spring, is playing its fall season.

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