Another Gus Malzahn press conference leads to yet another instance of concerning news to Auburn fans.
This time, we have learned that starting Star Robenson Therezie is “working through some eligibility issues,” according to the head coach. Though he did not give any details, late last week defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson led the media to believe that Therezie’s questionable ability to play in the upcoming season opener against Arkansas was injury-related. Instead, it could be worse.
Given the most recent developments at Notre Dame, it is easy to let the mind wander when the words “eligibility” come up. We certainly won’t speculate here what has caused Therezie’s eligibility concerns. And sure, this situation could be related to many different things, and in all likelihood it could be resolved without the senior missing playing time. But, it is hard to fear anything but the worst.
Robenson Therezie is a major piece of the Auburn defense. He is a top five safety in the SEC, and was recognized as such last season as a second team All-SEC selection. Therezie has played in 38 career games for the Tigers, and started all 14 last season. Last year, the senior had 57 tackles, three tackles for loss, four interceptions (one he returned for a touchdown) and is athletic enough that he has been practicing returning punts.
In short, losing Therezie would be a big blow.
Should Therezie miss the week one matchup with SEC West rival Arkansas, and perhaps more games this season, the Tigers will turn to junior Justin Garrett. Malzahn is comfortable with Garrett as the starter, but depth behind him should certainly be a concern. Plus, Garrett missed last season with a medical redshirt, and has started just one career game to date.
Johnson mentioned last week that TJ Davis was getting reps at Star, and Mackenro Alexander is reportedly involved as well. Johnson and Malzahn have both said that there will be different players involved at the Star position depending on what specific personnel is needed. Some players are traditional linebackers and others are defensive backs. Speculating, Derrick Moncrief, Khari Harding and Tre’ Williams could be involved.
We’ll just have to wait for more news and hope that everything will work itself out in the best way for Therezie as a young man and a student, and for Auburn.
Luckily, Malzahn had more to share than the startling situation surrounding one of the team’s best defensive players. A question many fans have had during fall camp was who would be punting for the Tigers – and now we know. Malzahn stated that redshirt freshman Daniel Carlson would not only handle all place kicking duties, but will also be the team’s punter. Carlson be the first to handle all three jobs at Auburn since Damon Duval in 2002.
Carlson is a big punter at 6-foot-4 and 216 pounds, and has a strong leg. And, obviously, Carlson proved that he is the best man for the job – at least to start the season. If the competition had been close, Jimmy Hutchinson, Tyler Stovall or Matt Shiel would probably be punting on August 30 instead of Carlson. And, let’s not forget, but punting is a very important job, so it is best to put the best player on the field.
The biggest concern when it comes to giving the young kicker so much responsibility is the pressure it will put on his body. Specialists can get tired just like other players, especially if they kick too much and too often. Malzahn himself has alluded to this during fall camp press conferences, which should give us an indication of how much better Carlson is at punting than the others he was competing with.
Another concern is that a redshirt freshman, who has not appeared in a collegiate game – much less against an SEC opponent – will be handling three separate responsibilities from the very beginning. Should another punter prove capable during practice over the course of the season, I am sure the coaching staff would quickly make a change.
Also during his media session, Malzahn named Sean White as the team’s third string quarterback. This means, of course, that the true freshman has proved to be better than Jonathan Wallace.
The announcement is a bit surprising given the amount of praise that Wallace has received from the coaching staff and the fact that White is a true freshman. One would think that redshirting White would make the most sense (and it is certainly still possible), but it appears he will be dressed out and ready if needed against the Razorbacks. As for Wallace, the junior signal caller will participate on special teams.
What do you think about the news Malzahn shared this evening? How will the secondary fare if Therezie can’t play? Should Carlson punt as well as kick, and should White’s redshirt be burned immediately if Auburn needs a third quarterback early in the season? Let us know in the comments below.