According to Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, the junior running back was far from being in optimum condition.
“We didn't make a big deal of it, but he was banged up,” Malzahn said Wednesday. “He wasn't anywhere close to 100 percent, so that had something to do with it.”
This came three days after offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said Grant’s ankle may not have been in perfect shape, but it was good enough to play on.
“The kid was pretty healthy,” Lashlee said. “He had a little bit of a tweaked ankle, but he was 100 percent in our book and ready to go.”
The Opelika native carried just two times, finishing with 9 yards.
DENSON OUT: Auburn knows it won’t have Jaylon Denson for the rest of the year. The junior receiver underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon in his left knee Tuesday.
Malzahn didn’t down play the loss, acknowledging it took away a key piece of the Tigers’ offense.
“That was a pretty tough injury,” he said. “That's a big blow for our offense. He was our most consistent guy, so it's going to have to be by-committee from here on out. It's good that we have an off week that we can start working some guys.”
Two players Malzahn mentioned as candidates to fill Denson’s role in the “5 position” were Brandon Fulse and Melvin Ray.
“We've kind of mixed and matched this week — two or three guys,” he said. “We've got some guys who can play multiple positions, especially the guys who have been here before.”
WHITAKER UPDATE: Jeff Whitaker hasn't played a snap this season. The senior defensive tackle has missed Auburn’s first four games after having surgery on his right knee before the season opener against Washington State on Aug. 31.
Malzahn was asked about Whitaker’s status Wednesday, and said a decision should be coming soon.
“We’ll probably, in the near future, talk through that,” Malzahn said. “At this point, things are still up in the air.”
Jonathan Jones hasn’t played this year, either. The sophomore defensive back broke his right ankle on wet steps just before the end of preseason camp. Malzahn declined to shed light on his condition, instead focusing on the team’s injury situation as a whole.
“This has been a week that everybody that’s banged up, we’re just trying to get healed up,” he said. “As we get into next week, we’ll have more answers about everyone.”