It wasn't made public until Wednesday, when the Tigers finally released their two-deep depth chart as they head into Saturday's season opener. Patrick Miller and Avery Young went back-and-forth with the first-team offense at right tackle for the duration of preseason camp, but Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said Miller finally began to separate himself within the past week.
Now, Miller will return to the same spot he manned the final nine games of 2012.
"He had a very good spring and it was an open competition," Malzahn said following Wednesday's practice. "We really felt strong that we needed to do that because Shon (Coleman) and Avery both improved. They both had very good fall camps and we wanted to open that thing up."
While Young didn't win the starting job, he won't disappear, either. He started to take reps at guard last week, and both Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee have praised his versatility, believing he could play any position on the line if needed.
"We have a lot of confidence in Avery, a whole lot of confidence," Malzahn said. "He made that battle very interesting. The positive as far as the offensive line goes is we feel that we’ve got quality depth. I would say there is a chance you could see him on the field."
PUNT RETURNER: Perhaps the biggest surprise on the depth chart was Chris Davis capturing the Tigers' punt-return duties. Receivers Quan Bray and Trovon Reed handled every punt for the team in 2012, but Malzahn said the senior cornerback earned the job because of his playmaking ability and his sure-handedness with the ball.
"He’s got a lot of confidence," Malzahn said. "He’s been the most consistent guy catching the football. When he has made some interceptions in the spring and in fall camp he usually does something positive with them. We felt like it was good to give him a chance to show what he could do."
Another (smaller) surprise was C.J. Uzomah not being listed by himself as the first-team tight end. Instead, just as he did exiting the spring, Uzomah shared equal billing with Brandon Fulse.
Malzahn said each candidate had his strengths and their playing time would depend on specific plays and packages.
"C.J. has really gotten better with his blocking and Brandon has gotten better with his receiving," he said. "I think both of them are very versatile. Like I’ve said before, both of those guys were recruited specifically for our offense."
FRAZIER AT SAFETY: Malzahn didn't want to speculate how much playing time Kiehl Frazier would see against the Cougars. The former quarterback enters Saturday as Josh Holsey's backup at strong safety.
"We'll just see how the game unfolds," Malzahn said. "Obviously, the guys that have experience, we know a little bit more about them. But at the same time, he's our backup at that position right now."