AUBURN – Redshirt freshman JaViere Mitchell had changed positions and was making plays and turning heads in last Saturday’s scrimmage. But a blow to the head put his spring practice on hold.
Javiere Mitchell comfortable being back at linebacker.
Mitchell, who moved to the Star position in Ellis Johnson’s defense at the start of spring practice, moved to Will linebacker and suffered a concussion in last Saturday’s scrimmage. He hasn’t practiced since but is expected back next week.
Mitchell was playing a significant role in last Saturday’s scrimmage before he suffered a concussion.
“He’s rounding second base and headed for third,” Johnson said after Friday's practice. “He’s going to miss one full week, and that’s bad. But he looked very natural being back inside from the Star position. You can sometimes tell when a player has about five or six reps that this was the right move or we have a long work in progress.
“It was obvious when he moved from Star to the inside it was the right move. He was reacting to things quicker. He seemed a lot more comfortable getting lined up and reacting to plays.”
The same was true, Johnson said, of Therezie.
“He’s a speed player and he’s a contact player,” Johnson said. “You’d like to have a 6-1, 215-pound Star, but right now he fits it perfect.”
Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said Friday his players have worked hard and made progress, but he said he looks for more, beginning with Saturday’s scrimmage.
“The learning curve has to improve,” Lashlee said. “What we want to see now is a big jump between now and the end of spring in about a week and a half. If we can do that, I’ll feel really good about where we are, but we can’t stay the same over these next six or seven practices.”
Senior Ken Carter, moved from defensive tackle to defensive end last week, is hanging with the first team.
“He’s doing pretty well,” Johnson said. “I don’t know that he is a natural end, but he has played extremely well for the first time moving out there. I think Rodney (Garner) is real pleased with him. At this point in time he’s holding down the No. 1 spot.”
Carter, though he’s not a natural pass rusher, has made progress in that area, Johnson said.
“That’s not his forte, but he’s decent,’ Johnson said. “He’s shown some pretty good technique as an outside pass rusher. He doesn’t have the first step that Dee Ford has or even (Justin) Delaine, Keymiya Harrell). It was very disappointing (Harrell) got hurt so early in spring. I think he’s probably a little bit more of a fast twitch. But Carter has done a good job playing on the edge.”
Junior running back Tre Mason’s absence from full-speed work should be no cause for alarm, Lashlee said.
“We’re not playing a game on Saturday,” Lashlee said. “We don’t have to rush anybody back. We want to get guys back 100 percent. It’s really been good for Cameron (Artis-Payne) and Corey (Grant) and some of those guys to get even more reps and see how they handle it when the load increases. We want him back quick and I think it will happen, but there’s nothing really major there to worry about.”
Ellis said he wouldn’t put a depth chart on paper, but he said after Friday’s practice some things are starting to clear up.
“Jeff Whitaker has been the most consistent tackle, so he’s moved up to No. 1,” Johnson said. “But it’s a three-way rotation right now with (Angelo) Blackson and (Jeff) Whitaker and Gabe Wright. A lot of those guys are still in the picture. I don’t want to talk depth chart too much because I don’t want to send a message to our players that things are beginning to be put in ink.
“They are a long way from that. I think Dee Ford has shown he is going to play up to the level of being a starter, but we’re not going to say anybody has a starting job at this time. He has certainly been the best player on the front so far.
“Linebacker, we have three guys with game experience. They are a little ahead of the rest of them. That’s still a work in progress. Same thing really at all our positions. I think our corners have been our most pleasing position on a day to day basis. Justin Garrett is probably the best football player we’ve had from Day 1 to now. There have been some things where I think we are starting to see daylight, but I wouldn’t want to put a depth chart on paper right now because I think we still have some good competition for jobs.”
For a video of Lashlee's full interview, follow the link.