Gus Malzahn

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Auburn wide receiver Kyle Davis potentially out for spring

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Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was optimistic about wide receiver Kyle Davis returning to the team at some point this spring, but the tune has changed regarding his future. Malzahn is now saying Davis may be out for the remainder of Auburn’s spring practices due to personal reasons.

“Kyle Davis is still taking care of some personal business,” Malzahn said, according to SEC Country. “I’m not for sure if he’s going to be back before the end of the spring. He will be back for the fall, just taking a little bit longer than we initially thought.”

It was just a few weeks ago Malzahn said Davis was going to be out for the start of spring practices, which are now close to half over. For now, the plan is simply to have him return over the summer in preparation for the fall.

In the meantime, Malzahn confirmed John Franklin III is working primarily as a wide receiver, which had previously been suspected to be the case.

Auburn DE Byron Cowart has emergency appendectomy

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Auburn defensive end Byron Cowart was rushed in for an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn announced today.

There were early reports suggesting Cowart, a sophomore, will be out for the remainder of the season as a result of the surgery, but Malzahn did not comment on the status for the defensive end for the long-term.

Cowart has recorded six tackles and forced a fumble in backup duty off the Auburn bench this season. Cowart was one of the nation’s top-rated players out of high school.

While updating the status of Cowart, Malzahn also said there is no decision on the availability of quarterback Sean White for this weekend’s game against Alabama A&M. White has been banged up and passed for just 27 yards last week in a road loss at Georgia. Malzahn has also ruled out running back Kamryn Pettway for this weekend’s game. Of course, as rough as Auburn’s offense has looked, the Tigers should still manage to score a victory this week against Alabama A&M.

Next week against Alabama, however, should be a much different story. The Crimson Tide have already locked up the SEC West Division crown and are heading to Atlanta and can still probably afford one loss without jeopardizing their playoff chances, but Alabama will look to finish the regular season on a strong note against rival Auburn in the Iron Bowl.

Auburn spring game attendance dips for third straight year

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Some schools take spring game attendance more seriously than others. Down south, there is great pride taken in a huge turnout for a spring football game or scrimmage, but Auburn appears to be stuck in a downward trend. For the third straight spring, Auburn saw its spring game attendance decline, although the Tigers still managed to bring out a crowd over 45,000 on Saturday.

Auburn’s official spring game attendance was reported at 45,723 by the university, which currently ranks second among the early SEC spring attendance numbers behind the estimated 46,000 that showed up in Gainesville for Florida’s spring game Friday night. With numbers still coming in from this weekend’s spring action, Auburn should be expected to sit fourth in the nation in spring game attendance after two weekends in April. Clemson currently leads the nation with an estimated 50,000 arriving for spring football on Saturday. Florida State trailed by a handful of fans with 49,913 showing up for a spring game in Orlando.

Auburn set a school record with 83,401 fans packing Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first spring game under new head coach Gus Malzahn in 2013. The following season was still impressive with 70,645 fans. Last year saw 62,142 fans attend the spring game. Nobody should read too much into spring game attendance figures, although it is interesting to see the trend developing at Auburn. The spring game attendance numbers are still impressive for Auburn compared to many around the nation, and this year’s total still ranks sixth in school history, but some might look at the annual spring numbers and suggest there is a declining interest or declining support for the program under Malzahn.

This hardly means Malzahn is on a hot seat, but last year was a massive disappointment for the program considering some of the preseason hype for the program. Pouring salt on the wound, Alabama was the team that was crowned national champion of the College Football Playoff. This appears to be a critical season for Malzahn and Auburn.

Auburn makes some minor football staff changes

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Assistant coaches continue to swap jobs as spring football draws closer and closer, and now it seems the fun is starting to wind down. Auburn made a couple of changes to its staff this week with off-the-sideline roles.

First, according to AL.com, Auburn has added Devin Ducote as a defensive analyst. The former Stephen F. Austin linebacker most recently was on LSU’s football staff as a graduate assistant. With his new tiger stripes on, Ducote will fill the role previously held by Blake Gideon, who has since moved to South Carolina with former Auburn defensive coordinator (and now South Carolina head coach) Will Muschamp.

Football Scoop also reported another staff adjustment. Video coordinator Brent Thomas is no longer with the team, the outlet reports. Thomas had been a part of the Auburn staff since 2007 following jobs with the Tennessee Titans of the NFL and the Tennessee Volunteers before that. Thomas is the 10th member of the football staff to leave Auburn this offseason, leaving head coach Gus Malzahn with a good amount of jobs to replace this year. That tends to happen when an assistant or coordinator has an opportunity to take a head coaching job elsewhere, as Muschamp did. That more often than not leads to multiple openings as another assistant or two or more will leave the program as well to follow the new head coach.

There is no information on where Thomas will be heading next.

Reports: Auburn to add offensive line coach Herb Hand to staff

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Auburn wasted little time in filling a hole on its coaching staff. Just after Auburn lost offensive line coach J.B. Grimes to Cincinnati, Auburn acted quickly to add Penn State offensive line coach Herb Hand to the staff. AL.com reported the move was likely to happen in the event Auburn lost Grimes to Cincinnati, and Dan Wolken of USA Today reports the two sides are heading toward a deal.

Assuming the contract details can be squared away nicely, Hand will be reunited with Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn. The two previously worked together at Tulsa in 2007 and 2008. Hand will also have a much better offensive line to work with than he ever had at Penn State in the past two seasons. Auburn allowed 19.0 sacks last season. Penn State allowed 10 in the first game of the season of 2015 and ended the year giving up a total of 39 sacks. There were some legitimate excuses to be made for the offensive line depth Hand had to work with, but Penn State’s offensive line struggled to show signs of improvement over the past two seasons. How much of that was Hand’s fault and how much of that was to blame on reduced scholarships and recruiting work on the offensive line?

Hand is also the second assistant coach to leave Penn State’s program in the past few days. Penn State lost defensive coordinator Bob Shoop to Tennessee over the weekend. Penn State promoted Brent Pry from the staff to fill the role of defensive coordinator. Penn State also fired offensive coordinator John Donovan after the regular season and hired Joe Moorehead from Fordham to be the new offensive coordinator. Now, it would appear, Penn State will need to add an offensive line coach to the staff.