AUBURN, Ala. — The news on Auburn’s quarterback front Wednesday was that there was no news.
Coach Gene Chizik met with offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn to watch and discuss film from Tuesday’s scrimmage, which featured all five of the Tigers’ active quarterbacks, but he made no grand pronouncement when speaking with reporters after the second of two Wednesday practices.
“We gathered a lot of information off of yesterday,” Chizik said. “Obviously the goal is to narrow this thing down as quick as we can. We’re certainly working in that direction. We feel closer than where we were three days ago, that’s for sure. Yesterday’s information-gathering was very productive. We’re getting close. We’re getting to the point where we’re narrowing down.”
Malzahn had morning meetings with the quarterbacks to talk about procedural things from the scrimmage each one needs to correct, but there was no mention of naming a starter.
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“Basically, just a pretty routine meeting,” senior Chris Todd said.
When the team practiced, veterans Todd, Kodi Burns and Neil Caudle worked with the orange, first team, while freshmen Tyrik Rollison and Clint Moseley split reps with the blue, second team.
None of the three veterans quarterbacks said he knows exactly where he stands in the race or how long it might last.
“We’re patient,” Caudle said. “We know it’s a tough decision for the coaches, and coach Malzahn in particular. We’re all antsy to get out there and get more reps. That’s just how we are. We know this is how the process works, and we know it’s a tough decision for them.”
Freshman running back Onterio McCalebb seems to have a nose for the end zone, adding another touchdown to his resume during Tuesday’s scrimmage.
“When I get my hands on the ball, the first thing on my mind is scoring touchdowns,” he said. “When I score touchdowns, I think about money. If you ask the players, ‘What does McCalebb say when he gets the ball on the 1-yard line?’ Most of the players will tell you, ‘That’s money.’ Because you have to get in the end zone.”
A backup battling Mario Fannin, Eric Smith and fellow freshman Dontae Aycock for carries behind starter Ben Tate, McCalebb has continued to impress with his speed.
“He chases rabbits and squirrels,” wide receiver Emory Blake said. “He’s super fast. I can’t say enough about his speed.”
“If he gets a step, we don’t have anyone out there who can catch him,” safeties coach Tommy Thigpen said. “He can fly. He can take a 5-yard gain, outrun an angle and take it 30 or 40 yards. He’s a house guy.”
Thigpen wasn’t sure stumbling, bumbling freshman Daren Bates was ready to play in college when he reported for practice last Friday. After Tuesday’s scrimmage, he has fewer doubts.
Bates, who did not join the team until he was approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse last Thursday, had one of the best scrimmages on the team Tuesday, intercepting a pass and forcing a fumble.