Auburn Football

Auburn Football: Week 4 Spring Practice Stock Report

Nov 30, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn reacts during the third quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
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Justin FergusonCFB National AnalystApril 11, 2014

The Auburn Tigers have two regular practices and one scrimmage left in spring camp before their grand finale a week from Saturday: the 2014 A-Day Game at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Personnel moves and position-battle updates highlighted the Tigers' fourth week of spring practice, which wraps up Saturday back at Jordan-Hare Stadium with its final closed scrimmage. 

Several players across Auburn's depth charts are looking to make one more impression on the coaching staff before the annual spring game, and some are getting that opportunity in new spots on the field.

As we count down the few days left before A-Day, let's hit the high points from the Tigers' fourth week of spring practice.

 

Oct 5, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14) celebrates his touchdown with offensive linesman Chad Slade (62) and Auburn Tigers defensive tackle Ben Bradley (50) during the second quarter against the Mississippi Rebels at Jor
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Settle down about the offensive line shuffle

The third week of spring practice ended with some surprising movement across Auburn's offensive line, which originally featured just the battle for the starting left tackle job.

Patrick Miller, who was battling cancer survivor Shon Coleman at left tackle, moved to right tackle, where he started the first five games of 2013. Returning starter Avery Young moved inside to right guard for some reps in last Saturday's scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

But Auburn's staff set the record straight in Week 4 after a weekend of speculation.

Head coach Gus Malzahn also cleared up the offensive line shuffle earlier this week, telling reporters the moves were non-permanent and all about building depth across Auburn's veteran front five.

"We’re trying to develop depth at different positions this spring," Malzahn said, per the Opelika-Auburn News' Alex Byington. "Especially when you got a lot of veteran guys, you can move some guys around to see what depth looks like and kind of play the what-ifs if you go through injuries next fall."

 

Nov 2, 2013; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive back Robenson Therezie (27) celebrates after a Tigers fumble recovery in the first quarter against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenau
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Therezie unfazed by new positions, hand injury 

Auburn's mixing and matching on the field has not been limited to just the offensive line.

Robenson Therezie, the returning starter at defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson's "star" safety/linebacker spot, said earlier this week he is also getting some work at safety in Auburn's dime package. Like with the offensive linemen's moves, Therezie said his reps at safety are important for developing depth all across a unit.

“It’s like the best thing for us to learn all the positions,” Therezie told Byington. “We can just rotate and play around with it — corner to safety to dime to star. We all learn every position and how it unfolds and works and where our help is.”

Therezie has been playing most of the spring with a cast on his hand. According to AL.com's Joel Erickson, Therezie jammed and broke a bone in his hand early in camp, but the injury has not slowed him down in his work at star, safety or even punt returner.

"I got comfortable with it after a day or two catching punts," Therezie said, per Erickson. "Now, I can catch punts like the cast ain't there."

 

Nov 16, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers wide receiver Ricardo Louis (5) catches a tipped ball by Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Josh Harvey-Clemons (25) and scores the game winning touchdown at Jordan Hare Stadium. The Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 4
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Louis joins injury list

The hero from the "Miracle at Jordan-Hare" has joined Auburn's slowly growing list of minor injuries during spring camp.

Wide receiver Ricardo Louis sat out Tuesday's practice with what Malzahn described as a "minor ailment," per the Ledger-Enquirer's Ryan Black. The Tigers head coach did not go into any more specifics on the injury.

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 14:  Deon Mix #75 and Tyler Nero #91 of the Auburn Tigers against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Defensive linemen Keymiya Harrell, JaBrian Niles, LaDarius Owens and Tyler Nero were also out due to injuries, joining wide receiver Jaylon Denson and safety Josh Holsey, who are still on the road to recovery from long-term knee injuries.

Malzahn told the Montgomery Advertiser's James Crepea "nothing's changed" with the status of Nero, who collapsed during a drill March 27. While Nero has been back to practice in a non-playing capacity, Malzahn has repeatedly declined to give any additional details on the incident.

 

Oct 19, 2013; College Station, TX, USA; Auburn Tigers running back Cameron Artis-Payne (44) runs with the ball against the Texas A&M Aggies during the second half at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
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Running backs have their eyes on A-Day

With the three-way battle between Cameron Artis-Payne, Peyton Barber and Corey Grant showing no clear signs of separation through spring practices, many fans are already looking to next Saturday's A-Day Game for their first look at the trio.

A couple of those running backs already have their sights set on Auburn's spring game as well.

Artis-Payne was the Lionel James Offensive MVP from last year's A-Day, compiling 164 all-purpose yards and a rushing touchdown. After a breakout performance as a newcomer to the program in last year's contest, the powerful senior running back sounds confident in his hopes of repeating as MVP next Saturday.

"I definitely have a shot at that," Artis-Payne told AL.com's Brandon Marcello. "I don't think I'm going to need as many touches as I did last year."

Sep 14, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers running back Corey Grant (20) leaps over fullback Jay Prosch (35) during the first half against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
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Neither Grant nor Barber, a redshirt freshman who continues to impress in his move from scout team to first team, participated in last year's A-Day Game. Grant, a former transfer from Alabama, said he is looking forward to competing against fellow senior Artis-Payne for the MVP award.

"I think [Artis-Payne] can be [MVP], but I'm going to be right at his neck," Grant said, also per Marcello. "Because, you know, last year I didn't to get to play in it, so I'm kind of excited about this year."

 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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