AUBURN, Ala. — If everything goes according to plan Saturday against Louisiana Tech, Auburn will use as few offensive linemen as it can and as many defensive linemen as it has on the two-deep roster.
Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes said if it’s a competitive game, he would prefer to keep his veteran starting five in tact, rather than using his inexperienced backups. His top three reserves, in no particular order, are oft-injured center Bart Eddins, freshman guard John Sullen and converted tight end Vance Smith at tackle.
“Offensive line is sometimes musical chairs,” Grimes said. “You might move someone else over in order to get the next best guy in the game, but then you might feel like this guy can handle a defensive end so you don’t want to move this guard. There could be some shuffling going on based on the situation.”
Despite having two true freshmen (Nosa Eguae, Dee Ford) as his backup ends, defensive line coach Tracy Rocker is taking an opposite tack. Asked whom he would like to get on the field, he didn’t leave any wiggle room.
“All of them,” he said. “Everybody plays. I don’t know where, I just know everybody plays. The biggest thing is, just play hard. Play hard, and do your best.”
Rocker doesn’t want to give his youngsters a short leash, either.
“You don’t want the kid all of a sudden, if he makes a mistake, to get frustrated and lose his spirit — that’s the thing I don’t want,” Rocker said. “But I keep stressing, ‘You’re going to be fine. Just keep battling and battling, and we’ll see what happens.’ ”
In the tub
Wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor has said he would like to have six receivers in his playing rotation. Now, he would take six healthy ones.
Taylor cited a team policy about not being specific on injuries, but he said almost all of his receivers are slowed by something.
“I’d be a little bit more excited if I had all my bullets going into this game that were 100 percent,” he said. “I’m sure everybody in the country is going through the same things. When you come out of two-a-days, there’s going to be some nicks and bruises and things like that, that slow skill guys down a little bit.”
Projected starter Darvin Adams is in question.
“I’m hoping to see him out there,” Taylor said, not giving specifics. “Keeping my fingers crossed.”
Taylor said the lack of bodies might mean true freshmen Anthony Gulley and Travante Stallworth will play Saturday. Hre will have a better idea of who will play after talking to the trainer Friday.
“Right now, I’ll be honest: I don’t know,” Taylor said.
No helping hand
To the best of head coach Gene Chizik’s knowledge, Auburn and Louisiana Tech will not shake hands before the game as part of the American Football Coaches Association’s effort to promote sportsmanship.
Some coaches, particularly Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, have expressed concerns that the timing of the hand shake could lead to altercations between a field full of overly-excited players.
Chizik didn’t express an opinion either way but noted a potential handshake could disrupt important pregame rituals.
Redshirt freshman DL Cam Henderson wasn’t on the two-deep roster released Tuesday, so it doesn’t appear that he will play Saturday. “He’s not quite there yet,” Rocker said. “Just ain’t there yet. I feel good with what we’ve got.” … Grimes said it’s too early to tell whether freshman Andre Harris will redshirt this year. Sullen, a fellow freshman, will at least play on special teams. … Chizik said the Tigers will have a shorter practice today that’s heavy on situations and special teams. “It’s a polish day on all sides of the ball,” he said.