Monday, August 8, 2011

Tigers getting more physical in practice

AUBURN – Auburn practiced in full pads Monday as the Tigers begin to ramp up contact.
“For our first day in full pads I think we did some nice things,” said Auburn coach Gene Chizik. “I thought the kids were trying to be physical, trying to come off the football and play physical. What I don’t think we did, I don’t think we focused on the little things that are going to make a difference. Alignments. Techniques. We got lost in there somewhere when the pads came on, which sometimes is natural, but we’ve got to get locked back in and focused back in on job responsibilities, which again, I don’t think we did a good job of today. But happy with the effort, happy with them trying to be physical and not happy with the focus of the details of the game.”

The Tigers will begin two-a-days today, with the first scrimmage of the fall scheduled for Wednesday.

Chizik said the next week, as contact work escalates, will be extremely important, particularly for both the offensive and defensive lines.

“This week is very critical simply because down there on both sides of the line there is no substitute for just getting down in there and doing it,” he said. “You’ve got to do it. You can work all the drills and all that, but from that tackle to tackle box, that game is a different game. The only way to do it is to get down and play in there on both sides of the ball. It’s very physical. Guys are learning a lot, there are a lot of moving parts. This week is invaluable because you have to have a lot of contact to get used to playing down there.”

Greene, Phillips out

Offensive linemen A.J. Greene and Aubrey Phillips have both been limited because of injury.

Chizik said it’s uncertain when either will return.
“Both guys are beat up and both are under evaluation,” Chizik said. “They’re both out right now until we continue to evaluate both of them and see where they are. I don’t want to go into specifics of it but on both sides of the line we’re kind of beat up right now.”

Dismukes making progress

Auburn freshman center Reese Dismukes, who is battling Blake Burgess for the starting job, has impressed Chizik thus far in practice.
“I’m really proud of Reese,” Chizik said. “He’s got the right mentality. He’s got the mentality you like to have at that position. He’s got a great feel for the game. His knowledge of the game is outstanding. He’s one of the smartest players in the entire offensive line when it comes to making calls, which we all know the center has to do. It’s part of his job. He is really well-schooled and well-versed in football and identifying things. That’s a huge part, and he’ll continue to get better and better. His part is going to be the physicality of the game, playing against those 300-plus pounders.”

Finding depth at tailback
Running backs coach Curtis Luper says he’d like to two more tailbacks ready to play behind Mike Dyer and Onterio McCalebb.
There’s plenty of completion behind those two. Luper had praise for freshman Tre Mason and junior Anthony Morgan on Monday.
“Mason’s going to be better than people think,” Luper said. “He'll help us. He'll have a role. I don't know exactly what that role will be, but it will be
defined as camp unwinds. He's going to play.”

Luper said Morgan would be a good fill in for the speedy McCalebb.

“He had a good spring,” Luper said. “He got banged up a little. He's a guy who can play the Onterio McCalebb role. He also can get out on the perimeter and catch swings and bubbles and screens and stuff. He's a very versatile guy. For this
year, we need him for sure in the backfield. We're a little slim. I'm
expecting things out of him as well.”

Competition stout on D-line

While Jeffrey Whitaker and Kenneth Carter are the Tigers’ most experienced defensive tackles and likely to earn starting positions, it’s not coming easy.

First-year defensive line coach Mike Pelton says Whitaker and Carter are being pushed by freshmen Angelo Blackson, Gabe Wright and Jabrian Niles.

“From a knowledge standpoint, I'd say yeah, they’re ahead,” Pelton said of Whitaker and Carter. “But from a physical standpoint, they're fighting for their jobs. Those guys are pushing them. That's a good thing. These freshmen have really put some heat on them. It gives the freshmen some light that hey, they can play. And it gives those guys, hey, I've got to hold my position. They're asking a lot more questions. They're putting in extra time in the meetings. They've got to earn their position.”

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