AUBURN, Ala. — Though he's been back with the team for more than a week following a monthlong suspension, senior safety Jermaine Whitehead has made little headway regaining his spot with the first-team defense.
"He’s still on the scout team," Gus Malzahn said Wednesday. "but he’s doing some special teams.”
Malzahn then followed that up by mentioning Whitehead has multiple duties with the kickoff return team.
"He still has a couple of different roles on kickoff returns," the coach said.
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Whitehead's inexperience on special teams showed last week, however, as South Carolina kicked at him during a successful onside kick in the third quarter.
Malzahn admitted that Whitehead doesn't "always" line up in that specific spot on kickoff return; that just happened to be where he was at Saturday.
Auburn's coach went a step further, disputing that putting Whitehead on the field at that time was a lapse in judgment.
"(The Gamecocks) executed it extremely well. They weren't actually targeting him. It was just that position. That’s what they worked all week. The game before he hadn't been there," Malzahn said. " ... It was one of those slow things that as a guy you’re supposed to attack it if you (know) for sure it’s going 10 yards, if it’s not you’re supposed to (leave it alone). So it was kind of that gray area and really it was a tough play."