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October 19, 2011

More reps for Moseley

Auburn practiced for more than two hours Tuesday night, and did so with its new quarterback getting more reps than the starter normally would.

Sophomore Clint Moseley had been receiving approximately 30 percent of practice reps as a back-up the first seven games this season, but in his first full practice as the starter, Moseley hardly came off the field.

"He got a heavy amount of the reps," Auburn offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Gus Malzahn said. "And he needed it, especially with the new wrinkles or anything as far as our game plan is concerned."

Moseley learned Monday night that he would be the starting quarterback for Auburn on Saturday when the Tigers travel to No. 1 LSU. The news came two days after he replaced Barrett Trotter in the second half of Auburn's 17-6 win over Florida.

"We really needed Clint to give us a spark (against Florida)," said Malzahn. "We had been struggling with passing yards down the field and he made a couple of plays that really helped us. We really feel at this point that he has earned a chance to have a spot to start and lead the offense."

The offense could look a little different with Moseley under center, said Malzahn. It may not be a drastic difference, but a difference nonetheless.

"Anytime you have another quarterback, as a playcaller, you think a little bit differently because each quarterback has his own set of strengths," Malzahn said. "Him and Barrett are similar, but Clint does have some things that are unique.

"He has a knack to do things when things break down. He's got a little bit of the gunslinger in him. The bottom line is we just felt like he deserved a chance to lead our offense and see if he can take this offense a little higher."

It won't be easy for Moseley. Nothing is when you play the top-ranked team in the country in your first start. And doing it on the road in one of the most intimidating atmospheres in college football won't help, either. But Malzahn is confident in the young quarterback. He has been since he signed Moseley out of Leroy (Ala.) High in 2009.

Malzahn saw what Moseley is capable of doing in high school. He saw Moseley lead Leroy to three straight 2A state titles.

"He was a playmaker," said Malzahn. "He knows how to win. You are always looking for somebody who knows how to win."

Malzahn hopes Moseley continues his winning ways as a starter against LSU. So does receiver Travante Stallworth, who will be traveling back to his home state Saturday. The redshirt junior signed with Auburn in 2008 out of Leesville, La.

"Clint can do a lot of things," said Stallworth. "He can throw the ball vertical. He's very good. (Moseley and Trotter) both are, but I think the coaches just thought we needed a new person at quarterback."

A new quarterback means Stallworth and the receivers will have to get their timing down with one another. It's something they worked on following Tuesday night's practice.

"We stayed after practice and caught a few extra balls, did stuff we couldn't get during practice," said Stallworth.

As for Trotter, Malzahn said the junior has handled the news as well as could be expected.

"Barrett is a champion. He's a great competitor," said Malzahn. "Unfortunately for him, all of this is not his fault. We have other issues around that need to be cleaned up. I know there are some things he would like to have back, but he has provided very good leadership for us. He's a very tough-minded young man and he's a team guy."



Quick-hitters



*** Senior starting guard Jared Cooper is out for the season after injuring his foot against Arkansas a week ago. Fellow guard John Sullen said the news of Cooper's season-ending injury was hard to hear.

"He's definitely one of the hardest workers on the team, and probably the most humble guy on the team," said Sullen. "He's a great leader. Just to see all that hard work go down the drain like that, it hurt me probably more than it hurt him."

Redshirt freshman Chad Slade finished the Arkansas game in Cooper's place, and started and played the entire game against Florida.

"We all have faith in Chad," Sullen said. "He continues to get better every week and all we can ask is that he goes out and does his best. Chad is going to be a great player."

*** Sullen, a junior from Auburn High School, also has high expectations for another freshman lineman in center Reese Dismukes. Dismukes, a true freshman who will turn 19 years old Thursday, has started all seven games for the Tigers this season. Sullen said there is a reason for that.

"Reese knows the offense well and he does a great job to be a freshman center in the SEC, a great job," said Sullen. "He takes coaching so well. He tries to correct every little thing the coach says and that will help him be a great player in the future.

"Reese will be a beast. He is going to be good."

*** True freshman running back/kick returner Tre Mason did not play against Florida Saturday as he recovers from a minor hamstring injury. Mason, from Lake Worth, Fla., would have liked to have played against his home state school, but said he knew it was for the best that he didn't.

"I really wanted to get on the field, but I knew it wasn't the best situation for me," said Mason. "If I had played, I would not have been healthy today."

Mason said he expects to be full speed Saturday at LSU.

"I felt perfect (Tuesday at practice)," he said. "I feel 100 percent and I can't wait to play (against LSU)."

*** Another true freshman, defensive lineman Devaunte Sigler, will get a look at a new position Saturday. Sigler has played defensive tackle this season, but with injuries depleting Auburn's depth at defensive end, Sigler will try and help fill the void.

"Playing end reminds me of my high school days," said Sigler. "I'll still play both positions, but end is a lot different than tackle. At d-end, I have space to defend, but I can still work my way around things. Down on the inside, you really can't work your way around. You just have to mash and go."

*** Malzahn said LSU's defense will pose problems for Auburn Saturday, but the Tigers will have to find ways to move the football and score points.

"They are very talented. They are very quick," said Malzahn. "They have speed, but also have quickness. Some defenses have one or the other, but they have both. They make you earn it, and they are really aggressive.

"We have to play better at every position. We have to overcome our deficiencies. We have to find a way to be more efficient on offense. It's going to be a challenge, but our guys have a good attitude and have really bought into our game plan."

*** Part of the game plan is executing better in the passing game. For the last three games, against Florida, Arkansas and South Carolina, the defenses have lined up eight players close to the line of scrimmage in an effort to stop the Tigers' run game. Auburn has to be able to take advantage of that, said Malzahn.

"To be successful on offense, you have to take what the defense gives you and be effective, and we have not been very effective the last three weeks doing that," he said. "I think that's our challenge. We have to be efficient and take what they give us."

Auburn and LSU are scheduled to kickoff at 2:30 p.m. CT. CBS will televise the game.



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