One the eve of college football’s first Saturday of the season, the Auburn Tigers received very good news. The team’s “star” on defense, Robenson Therezie, will be eligible to play against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The news was announced Friday night on twitter by the school’s sports information director, Kirk Sampson.
There were concerns Therezie wouldn’t be able to play at the start of the season. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said two weeks ago Therezie was “working through some eligibility issues.”
The school never specified the issues, but Therezie was cleared just in time. The senior is a key cog in Ellis Johnson‘s defense. Not only is Therezie an opportunistic pass defender, but he is also a strong run defender. Last season, Therezie finished sixth on the team with 57 total tackles and led the team with four interceptions. His leadership in the secondary only adds to the team’s most experienced unit. Four of the five starters among the Tigers’ defensive backs are seniors. This level of experience will only help as the team attempts to repeat as SEC champions.
The addition of Therezie also helps build depth along the Tigers’ secondary. The senior isn’t guaranteed to start against the Razorbacks, though. The coaching staff prepared junior Justin Garrett to start over the course of two weeks. Garrett can now be counted upon when needed to provide quality reps in the defense. It will be up to Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn to decide whether or not Therezie starts.
When the Auburn Tigers made their improbable run to the final BCS National Championship Game, the team’s defense was an overlooked part of its success. One of the unit’s top performers was its “star”, Robenson Therezie.
If the Tigers are to repeat as SEC champions, they may have to do so without Therezie for an unspecified amount of time. Therezie, a preseason All-SEC Second Team selection, may not be eligible to play for the Tigers by the start of his senior campaign, according to USA TODAY.
“We’re working through some eligibility issues right now with him,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn told USA TODAY’s James Crepea. “We should know in the near future.”
When Malzahn took over the program, he hired Ellis Johnson to become the team’s defensive coordinator. Johnson overhauled an underachieving unit. One of the major changes was switching from a 3-4 base defense to a 4-2-5 scheme which featured the “star” position, a linebacker-safety hybrid that could be used all over the field. Therezie won the starting job in fall camp. He finished sixth on the team with 57 total tackles and led the team with four interceptions.
The Tigers are now preparing for life without Therezie. Johnson admitted the team is “not sure (Therezie)’s going to be able to play early.”
Junior Justin Garrett is next in line to start as the team’s “star.” Garrett only played in two games last year, but he’s prepared for a much bigger role this season after splitting first-team repetitions with Therezie in practice.
“We’re getting Justin ready and right now we’ve got to get some depth out there.” Johnson said.
Five different Auburn defensive players have been hit or limited with injuries this spring for the defending SEC champions.
According to Al.com,senior defensive back Robenson Therezie has a broken left hand,sophomore defensive lineman Elijah Daniel is out with a groin injury,sophomore linebacker JaViere Mitchell is missing the spring while still rehabbing from a broken foot suffered during the SEC Championship Game against Missouri, and junior linebacker Cassanova McKinzy is limited due to a bruised hip bone. Auburn is also playing it safe with junior safety Josh Holsey, who is working his way back from a torn ACL. The report says he could be practicing right now, but there is no need to rush him back at this point.
With the injuries this spring, Auburn has had to move some players around to fill holes. One defensive move made was moving defensive tackle Montravius Adams to the end to fill the hole left by Daniel. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson does not believe this will be a permanent move, which means Adams will go back to the inside once Daniel is back and ready to go. Justin Garrett, who had a foot injury slow him down a year ago, has been moving between linebacker spots, and he has been showing some promise.
“Justin has been very unselfish,” Johnson said, according to Al.com. “I hope he can return to the Justin Garrett we remember from last spring.”