Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chizik talks about Sunday practice

Auburn practiced Sunday evening, after a long afternoon of signing autographs at Fan Day. Here's what Auburn coach Gene Chizik had to say following the evening workout.

(Opening statement)

"It was a long day today. Obviously it was Fan Day, which was tremendous. Don’t know how many were there, but there were a bunch. It was just a great opportunity for us to engage with our fans. And as I’ve said before, we’ve got the greatest fans in the country and they came out today in the masses. It was good for our young guys to see the energy and the passion of our fans for this season, so that was a good thing.

Leading into practice tonight, I thought the energy level was extremely high. They were very focused and obviously we made some mistakes, as expected, but again, their effort and their energy was up there.

Going back to the scrimmage and just discussing that, after getting a chance to look at it, quarterback-wise there’s no separation. All of them did some nice things. Not much separation in the quarterback spot. Defensively, going back and looking at it, really proud of how hard they played. Had some turnovers, which is good. And offensively really got into a rhythm later in the scrimmage when we went with some pace stuff, and we did quite a bit of that and moved the ball well. And so, we’re making progress, there’s no question. I think special teams Saturday we made a lot of headway in identifying some young guys that will be able to play roles or at least we’re hoping they’re in the right direction of helping us in some way. So that was productive. But overall, back to tonight, good practice tonight and it was fun for our kids today at Fan Day."

Will you get it down to two before you name a starter at quarterback or just name one?

"That’s (just name one) what we’re going to do. We’re going to decide on who the starter is when it’s the right time. Again, we’re going to stay on the evaluation process as it is and when we’re ready to do that, we’ll do it."

What was the focus of tonight's practice?

"Going back and cleaning up a lot of things from Saturday was big. Still in the installation phase of putting in things. They can’t get enough reps of doing the same things over and over again, but correcting them and doing them better than the last time we executed the offense or defensive call. But again, very crisp, very energetic, high level of focus practice tonight."

How many starting spots are still open?

"A lot. There’s a lot. Again, that’s the great thing. I’m really enjoying watching our guys compete, because they know there’s still a lot of opportunities out there. And you can see the competition is really getting tight. We’ve got a lot of young guys that it’s about this point in time where they usually get a little better feel for what’s going on. And that was really evident Saturday as well."

How is Corey Lemonier progressing?

"Corey’s had a really great camp. He’s just really got a great first step and quickness. His pass rush has really kind of gone to the next level. At least he’s working in that direction. Got to continue to work on the running game with him and anchoring down that point on the run game, but very pleased with him.

Did you see how how (former Auburn golfer) Jason Dufner finished in the PGA?

“I did not. I did not. I’m not sure how he finished. I know he was leading.”

He lost in a playoff.

“That’s great. That’s a great Auburn guy right there. Good stuff.”

Are the defensive tackles hanging in there?

“I think that’s a good way to put it. I think they weathered it. There’s a lot of moving parts down there and, literally, step-by-step, I think they’ve gotten better. But there’s so much to learn down there. It’s so fast-moving, it’s so physical. The journey for them is long and tough. But once they get it, they’ll have it. And some of those young guys are really coming along.”

It there a harder position?

“No. In my opinion, defensively, no. That’s the hardest position to get a feel for. And the only way you can do it is getting down there and doing it. And all of a sudden you look at camp and you’ve been here 10 days and the physical part, you start getting beat up and you start taking on double teams. There’s a fine line between getting enough rest but making yourself available for the next practice. They’ve got a lot of life lessons from that.”

Anything new on Mike Dyer or A.J. Greene (who have been out with injury).


How about (wide receiver) Sammie Coates?

“He’s like anybody else, Mark. He’s beat up, a little banged up, but it’ll probably be a day-by-day situation. We’re keeping an eye on it and hopefully he’ll get back. Obviously the sooner, the better.”

How about Erique Florence?

“Enrique’s one of those young men that always finds a way to be around the ball. He always finds a way to be in the vicinity of the ball, whether it’s get a turnover, create a turnover, get an interception, be there for the tackle. He’s just one of those guys where he has a knack for being around. He has a great field presence and a knack for being around the football.”

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