The defending SEC champions are past the halfway point of their 2014 spring practice schedule and are gearing up for their second scrimmage this Saturday.
Although rainy weather kept the Tigers confined to their indoor practice facilities last Saturday, this weekend's forecast is looking promising for the team to make a trip across Donahue Drive to Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Several Tigers continue to shine at new positions while the team's veterans continue working toward what they hope will be another championship-winning season on the Plains.
With eight practices down and six to go before the annual A-Day Game, let's hit the high points from the Tigers' third week of spring practice.
"Everybody eats" on offense in 2014
With the majority of Auburn's offensive starters returning from last season's record-breaking run to Pasadena, many on the Plains are excited about the potential of the Tigers' 2014 attack.
One of those people is sophomore wide receiver Tony Stevens, who gave reporters one of the top quotes of the spring on Tuesday:
The 6'4" wide receiver is fighting for more playing time on a more experienced offense that returns everyone except for left tackle Greg Robinson, running back Tre Mason and H-back Jay Prosch.
"Right now, we've got so many weapons on offense from the running back position to the O-line to the skills," Stevens told AL.com's Brandon Marcello.
Stevens caught a jump ball from walk-on quarterback Tucker Tuberville for a touchdown in last Saturday's scrimmage, and he has been impressing teammates in what Malzahn hopes will be a more balanced offense in 2014. The sophomore is looking to be a weapon in a receiving unit that returns big-time playmaker Sammie Coates and debuts 5-star JUCO transfer D'haquille "Duke" Williams.
"We've got a lot of playmakers on offense, so it's going to be hard to roll coverage to one side to try stop one player because we've got so much talent in one room," Coates said, also per Marcello. "It's going to be crazy when everybody gets it together."
Dampeer already making an impact at center
Rising senior Reese Dismukes has the most secure starting spot on the Auburn depth chart, but his backup at center has wasted no time in turning heads for the Tigers this spring.
"He got in there with the first and second groups," Malzahn said. "He got a lot of reps, and that's what he needs. I thought overall for what we ask our center to do, for the first time in a scrimmage setting, I thought he did a good job."
Dampeer was the No. 1 junior college center last season and transferred early to Auburn from Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College.
The 6'2", 296-pound lineman is already looking like the next man up for Auburn behind Dismukes, who has only missed one start in three seasons of being the Tigers' first-choice center.
Daniel back for a banged-up defensive line
One of Auburn's biggest defensive stars is going full speed at practice once again after suffering an injury on the first play of spring camp.
Defensive end Elijah Daniel fully participated in pads Tuesday after missing almost two full weeks of spring camp with a groin injury. The rising sophomore, who recorded 2.5 sacks in his first season at Auburn, is currently competing for a starting job on a defensive line that must replace Senior Bowl MVP Dee Ford.
Although Daniel's return provided more depth for defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson's front four, a couple of Auburn defensive tackles still got reps on the edges, per Justin Hokanson of AuburnSports.com:
Wright, who goes by the handle @NineORhino on Twitter, talked about what he called the "Rhino package," a front four featuring all defensive tackles, after last Saturday's scrimmage. Auburn tight end C.J. Uzomah said the tackles moving to ends, at least for a temporary basis, has been a challenge for the offense.
“That’s something completely different than blocking against like Dee, someone who’s extremely quick and fast,” Uzomah said, per the Montgomery Advertiser's James Crepea. “Blocking against someone like Gabe and Montravius, they’re (huge).”
Harding moved to weak-side linebacker
Another hard-hitting Tiger is moving to a position that currently has depth issues due to injury, but this one will be making a full-time move.
Rising sophomore Khari Harding has moved from safety to weak-side linebacker, where he will work behind Kris Frost and compete with Cameron Toney for playing time. Harding recorded just one tackle in three games last season and will look to bring his big-hit potential to the linebacker slot this season.
"He's a big hitter," Malzahn told the Opelika-Auburn News' Alex Byington. "You can see that off his recruiting film. And he's made some good hits so far (at linebacker)."
Frost, who is expected to start at weak-side linebacker this season after swapping positions with new middle linebacker Cassanova McKinzy, said he has been impressed with the Oklahoma native's first few days in his new role, also per Byington.
"We expect the same things from a linebacker," Frost said. "He’s got good body size to play linebacker. He’s fast; he moves well from playing safety. His drops are really good. It’s good seeing him there."
Justin Ferguson is Bleacher Report's lead Auburn writer. Follow him on Twitter @JFergusonAU. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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