Sophomore Justin Garrett, a weakside linebacker for most of the season, will probably do emergency duty at middle linebacker Saturday when Auburn plays Alabama A&M at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Justin Garrett will get work at middle linebacker Saturday/Robin Conn photo
Junior Jake Holland will start, but he has a bad ankle and isn't full-speed. Freshman Cassanova McKinzy has a foot injury, and his status is questionable. Senior Ashton Richardson will be in Birmingham to interview for a Rhodes Scholarship. It's uncertain whether he will return in time to play.
So the call went out to Garrett.
"He's done a really good job," Thigpen said. "He's been the most vocal I've ever seen him. At that position, you have to be very vocal. He's been playing the dime and Will linebacker and that doesn't call for much talking. The Mike does all the talking. Watching him, he's been natural at it. He's really quick-twitched and he's got a great attitude about taking that leadership role."
Thigpen had a straightforward answer when asked why redshirt freshman Kris Frost did not get any snaps in last Saturday's 38-0 loss to Georgia.
"The old saying is you get what you earn," Thigpen said. "You're not going to get on the field because you were a 5-star player. You're only going to get out there if you work your butt off and go out there and know exactly what they're doing. If you don't play, then that's a reflection.
"For us, it's about 11 guys on the field knowing their assignments. If you don't know your assignment, it's going to be always hard to get on the football field. That's the way it should be."
Auburn defensive line coach Mike Pelton says Auburn's 2-8 record has been particularly painful for him. He was made All-SEC as an Auburn defensive tackle in 1995.
"It's been tough," Pelton said. "This is me. This is Auburn. The one thing you don't want is to come back to your school and go through the worst team, record-wise, in (60) years. One thing Auburn taught me when I was here was to fight through adversity. That's what I teach these kids.
"I didn't know the assignment, but as it went on I realized that my assignment was to lead these kids through this time. When I was playing, we went through a time like this. It's been tough, but I fully accept it. I'll keep working with these kids and get them through this season."
"I love him," Loeffler said, "absolutely love him. He's been great since I walked in the door. I hope he has a great game Saturday, his last in that stadium."
Loeffler says Blake will have an opportunity to play on in the NFL.
"I think he is a very good player that is going to be just fine," Loeffler said. "Obviously, you always need to improve. He has some trait. People are going to be looking for him for sure."