Sunday, March 29, 2009

News and notes from Sunday's practice

INJURY: H-back Mario Fannin was seen in the athletic complex Sunday night wearing a walking boot on his right foot.
Fannin said he “turned it” during Saturday’s practice. Fannin didn’t seem concerned the injury would force him to miss much time, though he said he’d be out a few days. He did not practice with the team on Sunday.

STANDING OUT: Auburn practiced in full pads again Sunday and did more 11-on-11 drills.
Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said both receiver Tim Hawthorne and running back Ben Tate made some big plays during the team exercises, but he wants to see more consistency from the offense as a whole.
“We made some really good plays and we really looked bad,” Malzahn said. “So that was kind of the focus going into next week is eliminating those bad plays. Protecting the football, we’re really conscious with ball security and protecting the football. There were a number of instances where we didn’t do that today.”
Conversely, defensive coordinator Ted Roof said he saw improvement along his unit.
“We made a stride today and that’s what we’ve got to do,” Roof said. “We just have to improve every day and we got to come out with the attitude that we’ve got to improve every day. We can’t afford any missed opportunities. We got to make sure we come out there and the attitude is to get better. That’s the goal, to get better today because we’ve all got to get better.”
Roof again singled out linebacker Craig Stevens and safeties Mike McNeil and Zac Etheridge as players who have graded out well over the first week.
Right now, he’s placing a greater emphasis on creating turnovers.
“I thought the defensive front as a whole got some good pressure today,” Roof said. “I thought we competed better for balls in the air. We did a better job of getting takeaways today than we did yesterday. That’s a huge area of emphasis for us because if you look at the two teams that played for the National Championship, they were both in the Top 5 in the country in takeaways.
“You look at the teams that played for conference championships, they led the conference in takeaways. I think you have to get all the way down to the 31st or 32nd team in the country, as far as getting takeaways, that didn’t play in a bowl game. So that’s a big area of emphasis. We’ve got to take the ball away.”
A couple guys who could help in that effort, sophomore safeties Drew Cole and Christian Thompson, have also stood out to Roof.
“I think we’ve got some depth there and I’m excited about those guys continuing to develop,” he said.
Roof also said defensive linemen Mike Blanc, Jake Ricks, Antonio Coleman and Zach Clayton have stood out during the first few practices.

MOVING UP: Receiver Darvin Adams said Sunday that he is working with the first-team offense. Joining him on the unit have been Tim Hawthorne and Wadley native Terrell Zachery.
Montez Billings, a two-year starter, is currently sitting out with an undisclosed injury and Tommy Trott is still recovering from knee surgery.
Adams is playing the slot receiver role.

OFF AND RUNNING: The day before Pro Day, Auburn’s current players times themselves in the 40-yard dash.
Tate said he ran a 4.4 and was among the fastest players on the team.
The other players listed included freshman tailback Onterio McCalebb, who Tate said ran a 4.3.
Cornerbacks Neiko Thorpe, Harry Adams and Walt McFadden as well as Fannin also ranked among the top sprinters.

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