AUBURN, Ala. — Pat White is gone, his four-year run as West Virginia’s quarterback coming to an end last season. But if you talk to anyone around the Auburn football program, the Mountaineers don’t lose much in his replacement.
Players and coaches have raved about West Virginia quarterback Jarrett Brown, who through two games has 719 yards of total offense, sixth most in the country.
“He is very athletic,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. “He can throw it and run it. … We say that you have to cover him twice.”
Brown has thrived in the Mountaineers’ opened-up passing attack. He’s completed 75.4 percent of his passes (43 of 57) against Liberty and East Carolina for 577 yards and four touchdowns.
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But that’s only half his value. Brown has 19 carries this season for 142 yards and another score. At 6-foot-4, 223 pounds, he’s a load to take down.
“The thing is you see this guy throw people off him,” Auburn defensive line coach Tracy Rocker said. “The football doesn’t look like it’s college sized. It looks like a little miniature ball in his hands. I’m going to assume the guy has gigantic hands, just the way the ball looks in his hands. He’s so strong, he’s slinging people off and the thing you see is he can run. We’ve got a big challenge there.”
A group of Auburn students have started selling Trooper Towels, a nod to enthusiastic wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor, who constantly waves a towel to get the crowd pumped up.
“The guys had called me and talked to me about it,” Taylor said. “I thought he meant five or six of those guys were going to copy me with a towel and some of the things I did. I didn’t know they were actually going to print up towels and actually sell them.”
The towels go for $5 and can be bought online at TrooperTowels.com. Taylor convinced the sellers to donate part of the proceeds to a charity of his choosing, although he hasn’t settled on one yet.
“I tip my hat to them that, No. 1 they were trying to do something different, and No. 2 they were trying to get the student body involved,” Taylor said. “That’s kind of the thing we’ve been doing. We’ve been trying to make sure we show the fans appreciation for coming and make sure we give them something to cheer about and feel proud to be an Auburn Tiger.”
Morgan Hull overcame a strained thigh suffered in the preseason to seize Auburn’s kickoff duties. The junior kicked off six times against Mississippi State last week, getting three of them to the end zone and two more to the 1-yard line.
“He deserves all the accolades that he can get right now, because he did a tremendous job this summer working on the consistency,” special teams coordinator Jay Boulware said. “Last spring, I didn’t think that he was very good at being consistent. I knew he had a strong leg, and I told him to focus on kickoffs this summer and the offseason and he did.”
Hull trailed off on his final two kicks, booting one out of bounds and the next one only to the 10, which Boulware chalked up to fatigue from having kicked too much earlier in the week.
Despite Hull’s strong leg, Mississippi State still had solid field position. The Bulldogs’ average starting field position on Hull’s kickoffs was the 29-yard line.
Ain’t broke, don’t fix
Starters Terrell Zachery and Darvin Adams have made 14 of the 15 catches by Auburn’s wide receivers this year, with walk-on Jay Wisner accounting for the other grab. Taylor doesn’t see a reason for that to change.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “Those two guys have really stood out. I think Darvin and T-Zach have really earned what they’re getting. Until something changes in practice or one of those guys goes down or doesn’t make plays, then they will (keep playing).”
True freshmen DeAngelo Benton and Emory Blake have been largely invisible, although Benton figured to be a bigger part of last week’s game plan until a death in the family forced him to miss part of practice.
“They’ll be involved when they earn it,” Taylor said. “They’ve got to make plays.”
Taylor said freshman Anthony Gulley could see a bigger role this week, backing up Zachery at the “2” receiver position now that Kodi Burns has such a prominent role in the Wildcat formation.