From Bham News

MCKENSIE TO MOVE FROM TIGHT END TO D-END!

AUBURN – Auburn defensive coordinators Gene Chizik, David Gibbs and Will Muschamp all eyed tight end Gabe McKenzie at one time or another.

“They’d see him out there running, with the big body, and they say, `Hey, he could play defensive end,’” said receivers coach Steve Ensminger. “I guess in those years, we had enough depth at defensive end.”

Now, Auburn needs McKenzie to switch sides.

Auburn’s latest defensive coordinator, Paul Rhoads, did Tuesday what Chizik, Gibbs and Muschamp didn’t do when he lined up McKenzie at the defensive end. The move was necessitated by the loss of three starters from the defensive line from a year ago, and a series of minor injuries to backups that became worrisome.

McKenzie won’t crack the defensive end starting lineup anchored by Antonio Coleman and Michael Goggans, but figures to provide needed depth because junior college transfer Raven Gray isn’t all the way back from his knee surgery; true freshman Jomarcus Savage is slowed by a shoulder injury and interior lineman Jake Ricks has a sore knee.

McKenzie will back up Goggans on the strong side, lining up against, of all things, the opposition’s tight end. Neither Goggans nor McKenzie would likely be on the field in obvious passing situations, for they would give way to pass-rush specialist Antoine Carter.

McKenzie was Auburn’s seventh leading receiver and easily the top-catching tight end last season, but lost ground to fellow tight end Tommy Trott in spring practice. Coach Tommy Tuberville, defensive ends coach Terry Price and receivers coach Ensminger all said Tuesday that McKenzie will continue to see time at tight end, too.

The biggest beneficiary on the offensive side may be true freshman Vance Smith from Pace, Fla., and former fullback John Douglas, who figure to be Trott’s backups.

The trick, of course, is how much offensive coordinator Tony Franklin uses the old-timey position. Trott, one of the stars of spring practice, is a tight end playing in one of the two slot receiver positions. But if Auburn decides to go with a faster formation, Tim Hawthorne, a wide receiver by trade, would replace Trott, bringing a faster, much-different player to the position. All of this may also open the door for true freshmen receivers Darvin Adams and Derek Winter to join the playing rotation.

As it is, McKenzie has a lot to learn in a short time to see play against Louisiana-Monroe on Aug. 30.

“I’m not saying he’s going to play 30-40 snaps in the first game, but I could see him possibly getting in the game quite a bit,” Tuberville said. “This week will be the telling tale. He’ll have to show us something this week because of all the fundamentals we will and won’t do next week.”

Ensminger said he’s relinquished McKenzie for at least the rest of this week. Tuberville said it’s best for all.

“This was Gabe’s decision totally, but it was a smart decision on his part being a team guy and wanting to be on the field,” Tuberville said. “It was kind of a surprise to all the other coaches when I went and told them that we had somebody moving to defensive end.”

“When he decided to do that,” Price said, “we took him with open arms. We’ll put him to work every single day and see what he can do.” Check out Goldberg’s blog atĀ 

The goldmineĀ 

0 Responses to “From Bham News”


  • No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must login to post a comment.