Auburn’s VanGorder: Injured players face challenge
Auburn defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said the onus is on
injured players to catch up and reclaim their spots.
A number of key defenders missed all or part of VanGorder’s
first spring with the Tigers because of injuries, including
defensive linemen Nosa Eguae, Kenneth Carter and Gabe Wright. It
put them behind in learning a new system, especially when the line
earned the most praise from VanGorder even without them.
”They’re depth guys at this point,” he said Thursday. ”They
offer us depth and they’ve got to come in and compete to earn that.
They’re obviously guys who have played, so there’s obviously an
advantage for all of us understanding that.
”Right now, we have to view them as guys who give us depth and
determine, going into the first game, how many plays Nosa will give
us. How many plays do we want Kenny to give us? That’s how we have
to look at it.”
He said that missed time won’t be easy to overcome.
VanGorder and offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler discussed
their first spring in separate sessions with Auburn beat writers.
The Tigers wrapped up practice Monday with plenty of position
battles carrying over, including quarterback.
Defensive backs T’Sharvan Bell, Demetruce McNeal and Erique
Florence and linebacker Jonathan Evans were also among the
Even short-handed, the defensive line showed the most progress
during the spring, VanGorder said. Tackle Jeff Whitaker showed an
ability to get into the backfield more frequently after dropping 22
pounds before the spring.
”I never expected for him to perform and do the things he did
in spring ball based on watching last year’s film,” VanGorder
said. ”What I had in my mind and what I thought his role would be,
he changed my mind in respect to that, which is a credit to him.
Was it weight? I don’t know. If it was the weight, that’s a good
thing. He needs to keep that in mind during the offseason.”
End Dee Ford, who missed most of last season with a back injury,
took advantage of Eguae’s absence. He was defensive MVP of the
”He’s definitely an impact player,” VanGorder said.
VanGorder touched on other key players and positions, too.
Auburn’s already thin linebacking corps sustained a blow when
Jawara White gave up football due to injury problems. VanGorder
said there are no plans for moving players to shore up the
position, but freshmen Cassanova McKinzy and Javiere Mitchell
”absolutely” could compete for roles in August.
He thinks Jermaine Whitehead’s switch to safety is one of the
more interesting situations. Whitehead played nickelback and
cornerback last season.
”I think Jermaine will have a very important role as we go into
fall camp,” VanGorder said. ”You may see him playing all three of
The most intriguing situation remains on offense. Loeffler said
he’s in no rush to resolve the starting quarterback battle between
Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley. Frazier has scant game passing
experience, but Moseley was limited by a sore shoulder much of the
”There’s situations that I’ve been a part of, numerous
situations, where the competition lasted all the way through the
last week of training camp,” Loeffler said. ”I don’t know if
there’s any significance whatsoever in terms of if we wait until
the last week of August – I don’t see any relevance in that –
unless we have an established guy that has started for two to three
years. Then there’s some value to it. But that’s not our situation