On Wednesday, Auburn's head coach proved he wasn't engaging in subterfuge, as the team released an updated two-deep depth chart with a few noteworthy alterations. The first had Nosa Eguae, the Tigers' most experienced defensive lineman, moving to defensive tackle. The player he replaced, Angelo Blackson, was left off the depth chart entirely.
When asked about Blackson's absence — who has started all four games at defensive tackle this season — Malzahn downplayed its significance.
"Like we said, we had a chance in the off week to start evaluating things," he said following Wednesday's practice. "That's not to say that won't change, but that's the way we're starting out this game."
Eguae, a senior, will make his 34th career start Saturday, but his first on the inside. Up to this point, he has spent his entire career at defensive end, which spans 43 games.
Two other depth chart surprises involved the Tigers' wide receivers. Both Ricardo Louis and Marcus Davis were left off the two-deep, even though the two rank second and third, respectively, in receptions this season. Freshman wideout Tony Stevens pushed his way into the discussion, being listed as a co-starter alongside Auburn's leader in catches and receiving yards this season, Sammie Coates.
STARTERS VS. STARTERS: Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze thinks the fact his team and Auburn run similar offenses should help out the Rebels' defense Saturday.
At least, that's his hope.
"You would think it would help," he said during his appearance on the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday. "Typically, when we're preparing, we do a good bit of scout team versus our offense and defense."
Freeze made changes to that preparation this week.
"We're going two considerable, long periods of 'us against us,' just so that we can hopefully mirror some of the things that they may see on Saturday night," he said.
Malzahn said his team hasn't done the same necessarily. While the Tigers don't exclusively have their No. 1 units against the scout team, Malzahn said it just depends on the coaching staff's game plan.
INJURY UPDATES: After missing the past two games with an ankle injury, Chris Davis has been practicing all week. And according to Malzahn, the senior corner has also resumed his punt return duties.
Despite questions about Davis' durability, Malzahn said he had no qualms putting him back on the field.
"We just try to start fresh and not worry about in the past and all that and just try to put our guys in the best position to give us a chance to be successful," Malzahn said. "He's a senior. We have trust in him. I have trust in him. He's a tough guy."
David isn't the formerly-injured player to rejoin the team this week. Defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker, cornerback Jonathan Jones and Craig Sanders are among the handful of players who have sat out in recent weeks but were able to suit up since Sunday.
Malzahn said it was easy to tell a difference in the team's energy at practice this week with the return of so many key pieces.
"From a coaching standpoint, the depth, that definitely helps you," he said. "I think our players’ competitiveness and everything that goes with that has to be a positive, too."