Auburn’s depth chart is longer a state secret, but that doesn't mean the dust has settled on competition at key positions.
After spending the last two weeks deflecting questions about who would start Saturday in the season opener against Louisville, coach Gus Malzahn released his team’s depth chart, and answered questions about it Tuesday afternoon.
Competition at running back, left guard and linebacker were some of the larger question marks looming over the team headed into game week, but the Tigers aren't ready to provide all the answers just yet.
At the running back spot Roc Thomas is listed as starter with an "OR" separating his backups Peyton Barberand Jovon Robinson. Alex Kozan and Devonte Danzy are separated with an "OR" at left guard.
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The starting linebackers are similarly muddled with only Justin Garrett's spot listed without an "OR." The other two linebackers are listed as Tre' Williams "OR" Cassanova McKinzy; Kris Frost "OR" Tre' Williams.
“Anytime we have an ‘or’ it could be one or the other,” Malzahn said, making it clear those spots are to be determined.
Malzahn has expressed confidence in the Tigers' depth at each of the position, and has indicted a number of players will be counted on to rotate in.
During his Tiger Talk radio show Monday night, Malzahn said that seven to eight of the team's offensive linemen are talented enough to start while he's maintained throughout training camp that playing time at running back could be a "by committee" approach.
One point Malzahn emphasized about the initial two-deep depth chart is the true eight freshmen that are at first or second string.
“We recruited them and told them to expect to play, but they had to earn it,” Malzahn said. “We think they are talented, but they have to grow up in a hurry.”
Malzahn said his “biggest stress” is getting that group ready for Saturday.
“There are going to be some growing pains, we have to overcome them,” Malzahn said.
* Freshman listed on the depth chart include Jalen Harris as the team’s starting tight end, Tim Irvin as the starting nickelback, Ian Shannon as the team’s backup kicker, Mike Horton as backup right tackle, Ryan Davis as a backup wide receiver, Chandler Cox as backup fullback, Byron Cowart as backup at defensive end and Carlton Davis as a backup defensive back.
* D'haquille Williams is close to earning his starting spot back at wide receiver. He is listed with an "OR" next to his name with Tony Stevens. The other starting receivers are Ricadro Louis, Melvin Ray and Marcus Davis.
“We will see how this weeks go,” Malzahn said, of Williams status. “He’s working his way back up like we talked about.”
* Wide receiver Myron Burton no longer with the team, and Malzahn called it a “mutual decision.”
* The team's starting punter will be junior Kevin Phillips.
* In the secondary, Jonathan Jones and Blake Countess are the cornerbacks with Tray Matthews and Johnathan Ford at safety. Tim Irvin is listed as the team's starting nickel back.
* True freshman Byron Cowart is listed as DaVonte Lambert's backup at one of Auburn's defensive end spots. The starting defensive line features Lambert, Dontavius Russell, Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson.
* Marcus Davis said he would be the team's starting punt returner on Sunday, but he is listed with an "OR" next to his name with Jason Smith and Gray King. Johnathan Ford "OR" Richardo Louis is listed as the team's starting kick returner.