Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dee Ford out for the year

AUBURN - Dee Ford, a 6-4, 229-pound junior defensive end, is out for the season after suffering a herniated disc.

Ford had played in a reserve role behind starting rush end Corey Lemonier and was in on seven tackles, including two for loss and one sack.

Ford is eligible to apply for a medical redshirt, meaning he would have two full seasons of eligibility remaining if the request is granted.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Taylor talks with media after Wednesday night practice

AUBURN - Several of Auburn's assistant coaches met with the media following Wednesday night's practice. Here's what wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor had to say.

Why are you guys having so much trouble on bubble screens?

"Obviously the blocking on the perimeter's got to change and there's some things we do offensively to help ourselves with that, alignment wise. A lot of intricacies that go into that. But the biggest deal is put guys in position who can block, size-wise. Obviously you want speed but when it comes to blocking the perimeter, you want to have guys who have the size advantage. We're in a mismatch with an outside backer on Travante Stallworth. I'm asking him to do something he can't do. That's not his fault. Just when you pace, when you're going fast, we got caught a couple times. That'll improve."

How excited ia Quan Bray to get a chance this week?

"Quan is always excited. I don't know if you've ever been around him. The guys in the room are always trying to settle him down. The kid loves football. He'd do it all day. Unfortunately, you have class and weights and other things that go along with it. But if it was up to him he'd do football all day. But he's a great kid. Very excited. He understands football. He played quarterback, which helps there. I"m looking forward to seeing how he's going to do."

What's your confidence level in him?

"I feel really good. I trust him because he works hard and you got to trust what you see in practice. And I know you can't simulate a game but it's as close as you can, but he has done phenomenal. We contemplated putting him back before with two returners at a time."

Talk about how he has handled his personal problems

"To get the hand that was dealt to that kid. For him to make straight A's in that semester and doing well right now, and then to continue to play and not redshirt. He's phenomenal. Kid has great character. His family really has supported him and obviously the Auburn family. I think we talk about this kind of being his refuge.

"He and I discussed, we were just talking about my father passing away. I can tell him the exact time - it was 9/27 at 4:36 p.m. - I was 12 on the practice field. I told him that, and he can remember when he got the phone call. When you step between those lines, you're able to block some of those things out because everybody's equal. There's no qualms, no concerns other than what do I do on this play."

Talk about the job Emory Blake is doing.

"Emory's done a great job. I think a lot of it is carry over from last year. I think he got to see what great was like, working with Darvin and Cam and Mario, all those guys, T Zach...Work habits and tempo and he bought into that. He saw how important it was. Some people think two yards outside the hash is not a big is a big deal to this offense because spacing and timing and all those things make a difference. Emory's one of those guys who has a knack for that. He also understands the big picture - when I have chance to make a play, I have to make that play. While most people look at that as pressure, he looks at it as opportunity. That's not something you can teach. Some guys have that, some guys don't. I think that's a testament to growing up in a football family."

You have a new towel?

"No, it's been all year. It's TNG. I switch it up every year. It's just Tradition Never Graduates. That's what it stands for. I want these to guys understand. Players leave, tradition never does. You build your own legacy play by play and day by day. Ryan Smith, the stop on the goal line. Everybody's going to remember that.

"The towel started with me in high school and I've carried it everywhere I go. All that changes is the address and the hair line. And the waist line, but that's gravity - nothing I can do about that.

Do you sew?

"Actually I design them and I get them made. My sewing is not very good and my wife says she's not my maid. It doesnt' work like that at my house. I don't drive the train, I just take the tickets."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Reed out indefinitely with shoulder injury

AUBURN Auburn wide receiver Trovon Reed will be out for an indefinite period of time after suffering a shoulder injury Saturday against Florida Atlantic.

“Trovon will not be playing this week,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “He’s out. We’re going to obviously monitor him week by week to see where he goes health-wise with his shoulder. But, for this week for sure, he’s out.”

Chizik said freshman Quan Bray would move into Reed’s spot at wide receiver and also take over Reed’s responsibilities on punt returns for Saturday's game at 10th-ranked South Carolina.

“Quan’s going to get more snaps than he’s usually gotten,” Chizik said. “We’ve been bringing Quan along week by week, and now he’s going to assume the same reps that Trovon got.”

Monday, September 26, 2011

Auburn at Arkansas game set for 6 p.m.

The Auburn vs. Arkansas football game on Saturday, Oct. 8, in Fayetteville, Ark., has been set for a 6 p.m. kickoff and will air on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.

The announcement for which of the three ESPN channels will carry the Tigers and Razorbacks will come following the games of Saturday.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Auburn at South Carolina set for 2:30 p.m. start

Auburn's game at South Carolina on Saturday will be televised by CBS and is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff.

The Tigers (3-1, 1-0 SEC) lead the all-time series with South Carolina 8-1-1, including two victories over the Gamecocks last season.

South Carolina is 4-0, 2-0 in the SEC coming off a 21-3 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Phillips, Rose return

Auburn coach Gene Chizik said following Wednesday night’s practice that fullback Ladarious Phillips and defensive back Jonathan Rose have been reinstated to the football team.

“They’ll both be available to play Saturday,” Chizik said.

Both players were suspended last week for an undisclosed violation of team rules and did not participate in the Tigers’ 38-24 loss to Clemson.

Chizik was asked if he expected both to play Saturday against Florida Atlantic.

“You know we’re going to end up playing a lot of young people,” he said. “Again, we’re preparing for those guys to to have an opportunity and be available to do that, as well as a lot of our young guys.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Malzahn talks offense

Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn met with the media following Tuesday night's practice. Here's what he had to say:

Gus Malzahn

"Good practice tonight, good focus. Our guys were locked in and ready to move on to Florida Atlantic. I feel like we got better tonight.

Was it a physical practice?

"No. No, it wasn’t. We’ve been very physical and we’ve got a stretch coming up and we’re just trying to make sure our guys are fresh. At the same time, it was good work."

How has Barrett Trotter progressed?

"I went back last year and it took us three games to really figure out Cam and strengths and all that, and Barrett’s really the same situation. He’s shown a lot of toughness. He has a very good understanding of what we’re doing. And I’m learning him too of what his strengths are. So we’re trying to build on those things."

Where do you need to improve?

"I’d say overall, execution. We’ve got to get better at the little things. We’ve got to get better at protecting. Our quarterback got hit a lot. So we’ve got to do a better job of that. Just overall. We’re just kind of looking what we’ve done the last three games, just like we did last year. And we’re starting to figure out our identity and our strengths and our weaknesses."

The first quarter against Clemson went well, the rest of the game notso well. What happened?

"Of course they made some adjustments to take away some things. You look back at that last drive and the one thing, we really, really would have felt different had we gotten the ball in the end zone and given us a chance there. That was the big thing for me. There was some positives that we can build upon. And that’s what we’re going to try to do and that’s what we will do."

Important to keep the defense off the field?

"Yeah, I think everything works together for us to win. And we’re trying to stay on the field and we need to do a better job of staying on the field. That givs us the best chance of winning, so we’re working that area. And we’re working to improve that."

Will Mike Dyer get more carries?

"I think you go into each game with a plan and he’s a workhorse type guy and can definitely handle more carries. It just depends on the game and the situation. But he’s a physical guy and he’s put together well."

Is he quicker, faster than last year?

"I think that’s fair to say. As a true freshman, he didn’t go through spring, I think he’s going to be in better shape. Coach Yox has done a great job with him. He’s worked hard and you can tell he’s a step quicker.

Talk about the communication on the offensive line

"It’s very beneficial. The first time with the noise and the crowd, it’s very loud. And our communication, we had a couple breakdowns. And it’s got to be fixed. You always learn the first time you’re on the road, no matter what type of team you have, veteran or not, so it was very good for us to experience that and that’s something that we’re really going to work on correcting the next game."

What do you guys have to do to stay on the field longer?

"I think really the bottom line is the third downs. That’s the big thing, third-down and medium is the big thing for us that we need to be better on. And we’re working hard to do that."

Are you pleased with what you're getting out of the wildcat formation?

"I think we’re getting better in that area and it is a part of our offense that’s kind of a staple. And our staple things we need to be good at. But I do feel like we’re getting better in that area."

there was a third and short play in the second quarter where you went empty backfield. What was the call?

"What I was thinking was that I was trying to catch them off guard. As the playcaller, you do your best to predict and when it works it looks really good and when it doesn’t … As far as second-guessing myself, no. They did something a little bit different and they got us. But I felt good about it at the time."

Does the fast pace hurt the defense?

"We’ve got our job to do. And we’ve got to do a better job of keeping ourselves on the field. I don’t get into all that. We’ve got to do a better job of staying on the field. And really the bottom line is if we get better on third downs, we’re on the field. So that’s my only focus."

Monday, September 19, 2011

TV time not yet set for Auburn-South Carolina game

AUBURN - If you were wondering what time Auburn and South Carolina will play on Oct. 1, you'll have to keep wondering. CBS used what's called a "six-day option" -- basically, they told the waiter to come back because they're haven't decided what they want to eat.

CBS will decide after this weekend's games.

All we know now is the game is either going to be on CBS at 2:30 or 7 p.m.; or on ESPN at 11 a.m.

And as they say in the TV world: Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Phillips, Rose suspended

AUBURN – Auburn fullback Ladarious Phillips, a redshirt freshman from Roanoke, and Jonathan Rose, a freshman defensive back from Leeds, have been suspended for violation of team rules.

Both players missed Saturday’s 38-24 loss at Clemson.

Auburn coach Gene Chizik said Sunday the status of both players will be “re-evaluated over the next couple of days.”

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Chizik talks after loss

Here are comments from Auburn coach Gene Chizik following Saturday's 38-24 loss to Clemson.


"Clemson outplayed us pretty much from the second quarter all the way
through the rest of the football game.

"We had a fast start to the game, but we really couldn’t sustain much
after there. I felt like from the second quarter on we were not
productive; we were not making plays when we had the opportunities to.

"It’s very glaring, defensively, we have a lot of work to do. It’s very
glaring, offensively, we can’t turn the ball over going into the Red
Zone. We’ve got to sustain more drives. Time of possession is becoming
an issue with our team, certainly with the number of plays we’re
playing defensively. That’s certainly a combination of an inability to
convert on third downs for ourselves and the inability to get off the
field on third downs defensively.

"The first quarter was probably the best we’ve played. Then I felt like
we were a below-average football team.

"I expect us to bounce back and work this week and be a better football team."

Why was it so difficult to stop them on third down?

"Several different things. On passing downs, I felt like we didn’t get
very much pressure on the quarterback. When guys have opportunities to
make plays on the football, we’re not doing a good job of taking away
the short passing game. It’s an issue. We know it’s an issue."

Too many plays on defense?

"I don’t think there’s any question. Over 90 plays again today. We
can’t continue to play that many plays defensively. That is a product,
not just of our defense; it’s a product, offensively, of not being
able to sustain many drives and convert on third downs ourselves.

"As I said last week, I was hoping we were going to be a much better
football team this week. I don’t feel like we were. We have a lot of
work to do as a coaching staff.

"As the game wore on, I think tackling became an issue for the defense.
As the game wore on, I thought we were in positions to make
plays…we’re not coming down with the football.

"It was all around an extremely disappointing performance defensively.
And at many times, offensively, the same.

"We couldn’t get anything going on our kickoff return game to switch
field position. We made a poor choice on a punt when we’re up 14-0.

Will you take a more active role on defense?

"I’m really going to evaluate everything and I’m going to look at some
things. I have confidence in every coach on my staff.

"We’re not doing a lot different than we did the previous two years.
But obviously we have to take a look at our depth; take a look at our
young guys, and figure out ways to win games against very good
football teams coming up.

How will they respond to what is the first loss for many of them?

"There’s not options on that. They’re going to handle it like men.
They’re going to go out tomorrow and practice for the next game.
They’re going to have a short memory. I fully expect them to be there
tomorrow ready to go. That’s not an option."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Auburn loses linemen

AUBURN – Auburn coach Gene Chizik confirmed Wednesday that offensive linemen Aubrey Phillips, and Ed Christian have likely suffered career-ending injuries and that defensive end Justin Delaine is out for the season with an injury.
Christian and Phillips will remain on scholarship but will not count against Auburn’s 85 scholarship limit.
“Him (Aubrey) and Ed have had medical issues, so that (medical hardship) is our anticipation,” Chizik said.
Delaine is eligible to return next season as a sophomore.
“That’s the plan right now,” Chizik said.
Specifics of the injuries were not released.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chizik talks about Clemson game

Auburn coach Gene Chizik's weekly press conference on Tuesday was shorter than usual.
Here it is, more or less in its entirety.

Opening statement

“We’re excited to start week three and going back and reevaluating ourselves. As everybody knows who watched the game, we certainly have a lot of room for improvement. I think we made some baby steps Saturday in being a better football team, but so many strides are left to go. We are getting ready to play a very good football team in Clemson, as we experienced last year when we played them. It’s going to be really interesting with a very young team, taking them on the road for the first time in a really exciting venue to play in as well. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re looking forward to it. We’ll start our heavy dose of preparation today. We had a good practice last Sunday, and again, our goal is to get better every week. We’re certainly going to have to do that to have a chance to win this Saturday in a very, very tough place to play.”

On why the most recent teams are so good at winning close games...

“I think, number one, since we’ve been here, our guys are just willing to fight down to the end. They really truly believe in their hearts that when the games are on the line and things don’t necessarily look well, we still believe in each other that we can pull the games out. That comes from a great job from our coaches. Our players trust that we’re going to give them a plan to win. They trust that they work hard enough and that they’re prepared during the week, and it gives them the best chance to win on Saturday. Literally, the old cliché of not looking up at the scoreboard, keeping on playing to the end, is what we’ve been able to do. I just think that it’s really hard to close some of those games out if you’ve never done it, but we’ve repeatedly done it. I think that certainly helps our case.”

On last year’s game against Clemson and that being the starting point for the team being able to come back and win close games …

“Just going back and looking at the game film from last year, we’ll start there. We felt like that was more of a turning point for us as a football team last year. I felt like, physically, I thought we got beat on both sides of the line of scrimmage, just to be quite frank. We made that very clear that week. This is a very physical football team. That hasn’t changed. They’ve always been that. That’s been their history, meaning Clemson. That game last year, I think really opened our eyes to what playing physical football and what it looks like needed to be. Although we came out of the game with a win, I think we learned more on what we didn’t do, and we didn’t play a very physical game. I don’t think that’s going to catch us off guard this year. I think we’re ready for that. We know certainly in their offensive line, if you just take that, you know they’re bringing back four of their five guys that they had last year on both sides of the ball. We know it’s going to be a very physical battle, but yes, last year I think it was an eye opener for us. We know our guys will be very aware of what they’re going to face when they go in there.”

On the relationship between Auburn Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn and Clemson Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris…

“There are a lot of similarities. I think that if you just watch the two offenses, it’s obvious that there is a lot of carry over for each one. The connection that they’ve had over the years and the communication that they’ve had over the years in terms of doing the things coaches do. They pick each others’ brains for different things, and there’s a lot of carry over there. Both teams face it every day in practice. I don’t think there’s going to try to be anything revolutionary in either offense. There are a lot of things in the offense that you can pull from week to week, so it will be in the landscape of what they do offensively. Certainly with us, being in it three years now, we’ll do what we do. Very similar, and again, both defenses get an opportunity to go against it every day in practice.”

On memories from Chizik’s time at Clemson…

“I had a great two-year experience there when I got into college coaching with Danny Ford. I’m very thankful that he gave me an opportunity to work with him and a great staff at the time. I have a lot of very fond memories with a lot of great former players there and a lot of great people that are still there. Very fond memories for me personally. It was a great two-year period in my life, and it’s a great place with great people; very similar to Auburn.”

On fixing the problems on third down…

“We certainly addressed it a lot this week, and we spent a lot of time looking at it, evaluating it, on both sides of the ball. We’re very poor on both sides of the ball, converting it and stopping it. I don’t know how easy of a fix it will be. I know that, conceptually, we have to go back and revisit it and execute better on those downs. We’ll know more this Saturday. We know that for us to be able to win this game right now, we have to be much better on both sides of the ball on third downs. We do know that.”

On if the difficulties on third down are psychological…

“I don’t think it’s psychological. It’s just the execution of what we’re calling on both sides of the ball. It has to get better. I don’t think it’s a mental thing, no.”

Monday, September 12, 2011

Auburn-Florida Atlantic kickoff set for 6 p.m.

AUBURN - Auburn football game against Florida Atlantic in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Sept. 24 will be televised by FSN.

Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.

It will be the first meeting between Auburn (2-0) and Florida Atlantic (0-2). The game will mark the Tigers’ 17th meeting against a current member of the Sun Belt Conference and first since Auburn defeated Louisiana-Monroe, 52-3, last season. Auburn has a 16-0 record against members of the Sun Belt.

The game will be Auburn's first this season on FSN after opening the year with games on ESPN2, the SEC Network and ABC. The game is also Auburn’s first night game of the season.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Trotter talks after Sunday practice

Auburn quarterback Barrett Trotter talked with the media after Sunday's practice. Here's what he had to say:

After looking at the film, what did you think of Saturday's game?

"We obviously ran the ball a lot better than we did last week. Just establishing that run game and having Mike(Dyer) and O (Onterio McCalebb) having a lot more yards rushing the ball really helped the offense and really helped me in throwing, having time when we did want to step back and throw so more, to not have so much pressure."

Was there a comfort level with Brandon Mosely back on the right side (at tackle)?

"I think that's part of why our run game was working better, having Mosley over there. He's a big strong guy and it's always good to get him back where maybe he's more comfortable. I'm not real sure. One way or another they made it work.

Do you wonder if you guys are ever going to win in normal way?

"Not really. As long as we're winning, I don't really care."

Talk about Emory Blake.

"He's obviously one of the key receivers we've got. Any time we can get the ball in his hands, you can see what he can do when he gets it. That's always a big plus for me. Whenever I throw him the ball, whether it's a spot route or a post route or whatever, he's going to make me look really good and get a bunch of positive yards after the catch."

Any time you can get the ball in his hands, that's going to be beneficial to the offense. He's a great receiver and runs great routes and catches it just about every time you throw it to him. I'm very comfortable and confident throwing him the ball."

Talk about the first road trip, going to Clemson

"It'll be different, but at the same time once you get in the stadium it's 11 on 11. You've just got to kind of block all that other stuff out. You can't let that affect how we play."

What about the noise?

"It is difficult. We might have to transition and do some things different as far as signals and communication. That's something you're going to have to prepare for any time you're playing obviously another big school. You've just got to be ready for it."

Does it help to use visual signs?

"We don't have quite as much communication verbally as maybe some teams do. You can look to the sideline and hopefully get the play pretty easily."

What do you remember about last year's game?

"I actually watched part of last year's game just a little bit ago, and it was amazing how bad we played the first half. They pretty much manhandled us on offense that first half. We've got to come out and really be a lot more ready to play than we were last year."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Auburn makes changes on offensive line

AUBURN - Auburn made some changes on the offensive line for Saturday's game with Mississippi State.

A.J. Greene was announced as the starter at right tackle ahead of Chad Slade, with Slade moving into the starting right guard spot ahead of John Sullen.

Sullen had been limited in practice because of a slight knee sprain suffered in last week's game against Utah State.

The only announced change for Mississippi State was wide receiver Chris Smith starting ahead of Sam Williams.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Trotter looking to take next step

By Charles Bennett

AUBURN – Like a kid who just passed his drivers’ license test, Auburn’s Barrett Trotter is ready to get back behind the wheel of the Tigers’ offense and take it for another spin.

By all accounts, Trotter made a successful debut as Auburn’s starting quarterback in last week’s 42-38 season-opening victory over Utah State, but the road gets a little trickier on Saturday against Mississippi State (1-0) in the SEC opener for both teams.

“It was definitely a confidence booster for me to be able to go in there and play relatively well and help us come back at the end of the game,” Trotter said. “There were some positives there. But at the same time, we’ve got to play a lot better than that.

“I’ve watched Mississippi State. They’re going to be a lot better than Utah State. I know they’re going to be a lot faster, a lot stronger, a lot bigger. So we’ve got to really get more prepared this week.”


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tigers need to be more physical

By Charles Bennett

AUBURN – Auburn has a lot of problems to solve heading into Saturday’s SEC opener against Mississippi State, and Tigers’ coach Gene Chizik hopes many of them can be corrected by the simple act of playing more physical.

Call it the “shut up and hit somebody” approach.

“If we don’t do anything else better, we better be more physical than we were last week,” Chizik said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “Again, you can look at the physicality of our special teams, and it is more in line with where we need to be. Our special teams are made up of offensive players and defensive players, same guys that play on offense and defense, so we have it in us. We have to be that on both sides of the ball when it comes to offense and defense.”

Auburn’s problems in last week’s 42-38 season-opening victory over Utah State were most evident on defense.

The Aggies moved the ball at will against the Tigers, rolling up 448 yards in total offense, 27 first downs and had four scoring drives of 14 or more plays. Utah State was 10 of 17 on third-down conversions.


Malzahn says running game needs work

Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn met with the media after Tuesday night's practice. Here's what he had to say.

"We had a good 24-period practice. Got a lot done. It was a very physical practice, very demanding practice."

Lots of contact?

"I would say for a normal Tuesday, I would say it was a lot of contact but contact is definitely needed right now."

What are your thoughts after looking at film from Saturday?

"We've got to find a way to run the football. We're a run, play-action team. We've got to find a way to get that done. Our thoughts early on in that game was to run the football. We weren't able to be successful. We've got to find ways to run the football, and we've got a chance to be a good offense if we can do that."

Were you stubborn on purpose about running the football?

"Any time you go into any game, you have a plan. You have a new quarterback. So our thoughts were to run the football early. We were trying to gather information at the same time. And we weren't able to get first downs, and we didn't make very many plays in the first half. We definitely ran the football in the first half and that was our plan. Ideally, we'd like to make more plays and open it up a little bit more and keep them offbalance a little more."

How did you think (QB) Barrett Trotter performed?

"I thought he had a solid performance to start out. I was pleased with the way he protected the football, that's the No. 1 thing that you worry about with an inexperienced guy with his first start. He also managed the two touchdown drives at the end; I thought that was positive. But he's a competitor, and I expect him to get better each week."

How big was it, those last two drives:

"The positives were we didn't turn the football over. That's very important. And then find a way to win. There's a lot of teams that can't find a way to win. I kind of told our guys that's a positive we take away. We've got to protect the football, that was a big thing for us. We've just got to find a way to get more first downs and get momentum. We're a momentum team. When we get the momentum in our favor, we're a pretty solid offense. And when we don't, when there's three-and-outs, it can definitely look ugly."

How is Tre Mason progressing?

"Tre Mason is making progress, and i think a lot of our young guys too. I think you'll see those guys come on each week even more and more. A lot of them are overwhelmed, but a lot of those guys will get better each week."

Do you anticipate any personnel changes, particularly up front?

"We'll gather information. With an inexperienced team with a lot of unknowns, as coaches you learn a lot each game. I look back at last year, and we had a lot of pieces to the puzzle in place. But we didn't figure out our true identity probably until game four. So we are gathering information each week as coaches. Our goal is to get the best 11 on the field. We're still a work in progress."

Does the line need to be more physical?

"We've got to get better, there's no doubt about that. Coach (Jay) Grimes is one of the best in the business, and I know that he'll get those guys ready. Our guys came out today with a really good mindset to play physical football. You've got to remember we have one lineman that had 11 games starting experience; the rest of them that was their first rodeo. We had a true freshman starting at center. The encouraging thing is we really feel like we can get better each week. It's just a matter of how quick they can get the communication, the cohesion. It takes a lot for an offensive line to get together, so hopefully that will happen sooner rather than later."

Talk about Mississippi State's defense.

"They're a very good defense. A lot of those guys in the front and a lot of the guys in the secondary, we've been playing against for the last three years. They're an experienced defense. They’re very physical, they're very fast. It'll definitely be a challenge for us."

Is it different for Brandon Mosely to be at left tackle as opposed to right?

"Left tackle and right tackle is a completely different position. There's a lot of new faces up there, and I really expect those guys to get better every week. And that's our goal. I feel like we've got a chance to get better each week. If we can do that, we've got a chance."

Is the play-calling harder this year?

"What makes it challenging is we've got whole new faces for the most part other than a couple of positions. Last year was the first time since I've been coaching college that I've had the luxury of a guy that could run like that. As a coach, you try to build around your quarterback's strengths, and Barrett has definitely strengths. So you will see us try to build around his strengths.

Will defenses key more on the tailback without Cam running the offense?

"I think that's any offense that has more of a traditional quarterback, they're going to key on the tailback."

Assess how Barrett managed the game.

"Protecting the football, he was outstanding. And the way he managed the situation the last two drives, I thought was very impressive for a first starter."

Before that?

"There were some things that he'll get better at and he'll see and he'll understand better. The quarterback position in college is an extremely tough position to play. It doesn't make any difference if he's been watching and been in the offense for three years, until you get out there and actually see the different looks and actually play the position, that's when you learn. And I'm learning more about him and he's learning more about himself each game.

"The thing about offense, you've got to have all of them do the right thing. If one of them's not, it can really make everything ugly."

DeAngelo Benton was supposed to play a lot at wide receiver and didn't. Any reason?

"You have a plan to play a lot of different players. The way the game transpires changes some things. We'd like to play some other guys, not only DeAngelo but some other guys, more snaps. But the way the game transpired, the urgency, kind of changed things. The fact that we had 50-something plays didn't help either.

"Not only him, but there's some others that you'll see on the field as the year goes along."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Roof says defense needs to step up

Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof met with the media following Monday's practice. Here's what he had to say:

Your impressions after watching the film (from Saturday's 42-38 victory over Utah State)

“Yes, there were way too many mistakes. Things that we can control and things that we’ve all got to get better at. There wasn’t any one group or any one thing. It was a combination of a bunch of things and we’ve all got to work to get it fixed. That’s what we’re doing.”

Do you anticipate personnel changes?

“No. I don’t think so. Like I said, we’ve all got to do our part to get better because we’ve got to get better in a hurry. You know the old adage that you make your most improvement from game one to game two, well that better hold true for us this week. Our kids are focused. They understand what happened. At the same time, we won the football game. But we’ve got a lot of work to do and that’s what we’re addressing. We’re moving forward to get things cleaned up and get them fixed so we can play much better football against Mississippi State.”

Do you anticipate playing as many as you did against Utah State?

“Yeah, I do. That’s one thing we’ve got to continue to do. Some people have earned that right. At the same time it’s a way of forcing depth to develop. Because as coaches sometimes guys get hesitant about putting guys in, this kid or that kid, but in the end it’s beneficial for everybody in the long run to go ahead and do it. That’s what we’ve decided to do and we’re committed to doing that.”

Anybody show enough to warrant more playing time?

“There are some guys who are probably going to get a few more turns. That’s still based on the performance on the practice field this week so everything we’re doing we’re evaluating to the nth degree.”

Have you started working on MSU?

“Oh, yeah. We took a part of practice and worked on Auburn, cleaning up things we had to clean up and a large percentage of it was Mississippi State. Usually we’re off on Monday so this is a great start for us and something we desperately needed.”

Was part of the trouble Saturday alignment problems, people in shock at their first game, or Utah State doing things they were not prepared for?

“I wish I knew because if I knew going into that game I had a specific deal … obviously we were concerned with that many young kids playing and as many things as they did offensively and they were a good offensive football team with a lot of returning starters. Those are things, at the same time you can preach it and preach it in practice and until it happens to them on the big stage, I think it really hit home. Why we coach the details we do, why we coach the forced communication that we do. Why we turn up the crowd noise on Thursday where we have to do all non-verbal communication in the secondary. So I think there are a lot of things that hit home because maybe understanding that we need to treasure the details in what we’re doing.”

What will Eltoro’s Freeman's role be this week?

“That’s to be determined. He’s going to have a role. He’s going to have a big role. I’m looking forward to getting him back. I think he’s going to bring some energy and he’ll help us put a charge in that defense.”

Which linebacker spot will he play?

“Not sure.”

You played a lot of zone last week. More man-to-man this week?

“We did what we thought we had to do to give us the best chance to win. And that wasn’t a situation where we wanted to play a whole lot of man coverage going in because there were some situations and things that they did that present problems. But we’re always going to play a blend of coverages, but we want to be ultra aggressive and get up there and let our corners play press and that’s what we want to hang our hat on. We’ll just do what we think we need to do to give us the best chance to win based on who we are, what we do well and at the same time what we have to defend.”

Has communication got to improve?

“Absolutely, because with communication come s confidence and when guys have confidence they play faster. That’s something that we’re harping on as coaches and have been harping on and will continue to harp on because with the adjustments offenses are forcing you to make everybody has to be on the same page on the back end and throughout the whole defense or else it will cost you a big one. So that’s an area we’re working hard to get better on this week.”

Jonathan Evans was able to practice?

“Yeah, yeah. He was very productive. Had a productive game. there are some things he’s got to get better on to become more relaiable, more consistent, but he was very productive, played extremely hard, was physical a times and I think that was a good first step for him.”

With all the youth on defense, which area did that show the most on Saturday?

“I think it showed throughout. but listen I’m not making excuses. There are no excuses. That’s who we are. That’s where we are and that’s what we are right now. We’ve just got to keep working, keep growing. There’s a lot of want to there, there’s great attitudes and good work ethic and a lot of talent, so we’re going to get better.”

Anybody other than Evans play well?

“There were some guys who played better than some other guys. I thought jeff Whitaker got better and was productive. He gave us some good push inside. I thought Dee Ford there at the end gave us some juice in the pass rush when we were trying to close the deal there.”

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mullen says he and Chizik haven't discussed Newton

Even though Mississippi State reported to the SEC and the NCAA last year that persons claiming to represent former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton sought extra benefits for Newton to sign with the Bulldogs, MSU coach Dan Mullen says the subject has never come up between he and Auburn coach Gene Chizik.

Auburn plays host to Mississippi State on Saturday.

“I never really knew Gene much," Mullen said Sunday on his weekly teleconference. "I don’t think I ever actually got to meet him until we were at an SEC head coaches meeting. So, most of that is taking care of conference business. Our paths never really crossed much. During those meetings, I congratulated him on a great season, winning the conference championship and the national championship for the SEC and representing us so well the way that he did for us last season. So besides that, I really haven’t ended up crossing paths that much even throughout my whole career.”

And during those conversations, the subject of Cam Newton never came up?

“I’ve never discussed that," Mullen said. "The Cam Newton situation to me ended almost two years ago. He committed there in December (2009). I never really thought of it much. I did when we played them last year because I know he’s a very good football player. That’s what, about 20 months ago now? None of that to me has ever come up. I think Gene is a good football coach and I imagine everything he does, he does the right way with his program. None of that would ever even be a factor in my mind.”

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Chizik talks post-game about Tigers' narrow escape

Here are coach Gene Chizik's comments to the media following the Tigers' 42-38 victory over Utah State on Saturday.


“Obviously, any time you can get a win no matter how you can get it you have to be pleased with that. I was pleased with a very young team being able to fight through a lot of adversity and persevere through times that didn’t look very good to be honest, but our kids as they have done so many times since we’ve been here they have found a way to come back and win. That is really good to see in our young guys. I think again that has kind of been instilled in this group that you never look at the clock and the scoreboard until it says 0:00. So in that regard we are thrilled that we came out with the win today. No question about it, I think it is obvious that everybody that saw the game realizes that we did not play well as a football team. There are no excuses for that. We just didn’t play well. I think it was very evident that our most experienced part of our football team is our special teams. I don’t think there is any question that offensively and defensively we are a long way off from being able to win very many games right now. Special teams-wise we have a lot of confidence and they played with a little bit of a swagger and rightly so. I think it was evident today in our kickoff return team even though it was Tre Mason back there, a young guy. We have a lot of guys on there that have done it before and we have some good yards on our kickoff returns. Our punt team was excellent. Cody Parkey was outstanding. The best that I have seen in a long time in kickoffs which is a field position issue that you can’t get enough of those. So, that is a great situation with our kickoff team plus our coverage was great on our kickoff team. We are still a little ways off on our punt returns but as you can see as I said before to win the game with the game on the line, we do an onside kick which we work routinely, and it pretty much unfolded exactly the way you would draw it up. So, those are the things that I take from the game that are positive. We spent a lot of time on two minute offense coming down to the end of the game and managing the clock and trying to win the game at the end. We spend a lot of time on that. I thought that was evident today but if you remove those things from the game, if you look at us defensively, we looked like a defense that was extremely young against an offense that had a lot of people back. We didn’t play well period. No excuses. I thought it was a very poor defensive effort. That’s not acceptable here at Auburn so I fully expect us to rectify that next week. Offensively, I thought the same for much of the game. I think finally in the last quarter or so we actually looked like an offense that is a college offense. Other than that I did not, and that is how I feel about it. So, we have a lot of work to do. I’m thrilled to have a win. I’m thrilled to come out on top. That was a good football team. They did a great job. They played probably a perfect game. Their game plan they executed to a ‘T.’ But again, my hat’s off to my players and coaches for finding a way to come back and win at the end. That’s what matters so we’ve got a lot of improvement to do as everybody that saw the game knows, and that’s what our aim is going to be before we start out in conference play next week.”

On Barrett Trotter’s first start

“Well, the fourth quarter was really good to see. The game was on the line, and we had to take two scores down there with one time out on the board. We squandered two time outs earlier in the half. We went down with one time out and were very cognizant of making sure we were going to manage the clock. He made some clutch throws. Some guys made some clutch catches and did some things with the ball in their hands after the catch mainly Travante Stallworth and Onterio McCalebb when the game was on the line which does not surprise me that it was those two. But, Barrett, I thought had his moments. He is certainly going to see the film and know that he can play much better. I thought there were some receivers open that we could have hit and there were times where he had some undo pressure and that is an offensive line slash back in protection issue. So, overall we won the game. I’m definitely not pleased with a lot of areas of our offense or our defense.”

Is that something you can fix or do they just have to grow into it?

“I think they have to grow up. I think that there are a lot of moving parts in your first game for young guys and we will get better and again, it is going to be a journey for these guys. I think today in one point in the game, we had counted somewhere between 20 and 22 new guys that were playing a pretty significant role on the field, which is a lot of people. But again, it is not an excuse.”

On Chris Brooks’ onside kick that Emory Blake recovered

“On our onside kicks, we always have two designated catchers with him (Emory Blake) being one of them. We don’t know exactly where the ball is going to land, but we have kickers that work it relentlessly in practice. We work it several times a week. Work it all the way through two-a-days. We’ve been doing the same one for three years, and I don’t know off the top of my head our onside kick track record right now, but it is pretty good.”

On Travante Stallworth’s first start

“I’m really proud of Travante. Again, I said earlier in the week, he’s a savvy player. He finds ways to find holes in the defense. Today it was really good to see him do something with the ball in his hands after the catch. I think again he’s had to overcome a lot of things injury-wise, and I couldn’t be more proud of the way he’s come on and again, I thought he was a significant part in helping us win today.”

Were you surprised today at how far off you looked from being able to win a lot of games?

“Obviously, there were times when I really felt like we could have played better as a whole. I’m not going to measure the magnitude of how far off we are. I just know that performance today on offense and defense won’t win us many games. So again as I just told our team, our biggest improvement has got to be between week one and two and two and three. So again, if we are going to win football games in this league, there is going to have to be significant improvement by this time next week.”

How much do you think the defense missed Eltoro Freeman today?

“Without a doubt we are going to be happy to get Eltoro back next week, but that was not the issue.”

Was the problem on defense getting people lined up correctly?

“Well, they were doing a lot of moving and shifting and trading which we felt like they would do that. So, some of it was that. Some of it is we probably weren’t as physical at the point of attack that we needed to be and again, that’s going to be young guys learning how to play out there, and it is going to have to be the older guys getting us lined up. So, it is probably a multitude of issues for as poor of a defensive performance as that was.”

On Michael Dyer coming off the bench and providing a spark

“Again, we feel like running back situation-wise right now, we have the majority of our carries right now will be between Onterio (McCalebb), Michael Dyer and Tre Mason. So, we are going to use them as we see fit and as we need. Don’t read into who is the starter, who’s not. That’s not the deal. Those are the guys that are going to get the carries when we see what the defense is giving us, and we will use those guys and utilize them at the right spots and the right times to do whatever we need to get accomplished. Today, Michael came in and gave us a spark. I think he had a couple of touchdowns in there, but I thought he was trying to run the ball physical and downhill.”

On Tre Mason’s kickoff return

“There is no question about it. Again, going back to one of the strengths of our team is our special teams. Tre has shown an incredible amount of savvy on kickoff returns in the preseason. He was really good at it in high school. He has a lot of courage back there. He doesn’t get rattled with a lot of different things. We felt like he would have a chance to break one. Again, he has a knack for that. A lot of times at that position, that is what it takes.”

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Auburn holds final practice for Utah State

Courtesy of Auburn Sports Information

AUBURN — The 19th-ranked Auburn football team spent 75 minutes practicing inside the new indoor facility Thursday as the Tigers moved one step closer to Saturday’s season opener against Utah State.

Auburn touched on all phases, going through offensive and defensive situational drills and special teams work.

At his Tuesday media conference this week, Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said the Tigers have been preparing for a Utah State team that returns 10 starters on offense and six on defense from last season.

“We're really looking forward to a great opening challenge with Utah State and the challenges that they pose,” Chizik said. “This is (head coach) Gary (Andersen)'s third year. He's done a really nice job building the program just the way he wants it. Offensively, they have a lot of returning starters. It's going to be a challenge for our defense. Everything starts with the offensive line, as we know. They have some veteran guys up front, which will be challenging for our young defensive line, as we know. It'll be a good first challenge for us.”

Auburn goes into the season opener with 22 freshmen listed on the three-deep depth chart. Chizik noted the freshmen have earned their spot on the depth chart and will be counted on in virtually any situation on game day.

"The plan is to really play the guys who we think deserve to play, whether it be early in the game or late in the game, whatever the situation calls for, the guys that have worked hard enough and deserve to play and have really earned our trust to play, we're going to put them in whenever we feel like the situation is right,” Chizik said. “We're not holding anything back. You're going to see them on the opening kickoff, you're going to see them on the opening kickoff return, depending on which one we do, you're going to see them throughout the offense and the defense.”

The Tigers will open the 2011 season Sept. 3 vs. Utah State at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN2 with kickoff set for 11 a.m.

Auburn has a 91-25-2 record in season-opening games. Auburn has won 20 of its last 25 openers, including a current streak of four straight wins. The Tigers are one of two teams in the FBS to return a pair of running backs who eclipsed 800 yards last season. Michael Dyer set an AU freshman record by rushing for 1093 yards last season, while Onterio McCalebb rushed for 810 yards in 2010.


Warming up some left over "Super Trooper"

The local media covering Auburn usually get to visit with the Tigers' position coaches Wednesday night after practice.

Here's what wide receivers' coach Trooper Taylor had to say.

Are you excited about the first game?

"It’s almost like Christmas. You get to open up your presents to see
how it’s going to turn out. I just my hope my bike doesn’t have a flat

"I’m excited to see what type of team we’re going to have and what kind
of identify we’re going to have."

Talk about Travante Stallworth earning a starting spot at receiver.

"He made plays. Players made plays. The kid really pushed himself
coming back from injury. I started him at the very bottom. I tested
him to see if he was going to step up or shut it down. He stepped up.
You’ll see him flop and go to another spot. He’s crafty. He’s smart enough
that he never lets his alignment stop him from doing his assignment.

DeAngelo Benton. He was behind Darvin Adams. Now he's behind Emory Blake. Will he play a lot?

"He will, and the reason why is because at that position that is where
a lot of the balls go. You want to get it to the best two you’ve got,
and nobody is going to play 80 snaps. The good thing about both of
those guys is you’ll look up and both of those guys will be on the
field at the same time. That’s going to be good for us.

"I’ve been proud of him. First of all, he’s stayed healthy so far. The
kid hasn’t been a practice at all. He’s had several things through
camp. At the beginning of camp, he had pink eye. I don’t know if
you’ve had it, but you definitely don’t want to practice football, and
he didn’t miss a single snap. That let me know his toughness is there.
He answers questions like a quarterback now. Before, he only knew what
he had. Now, he’s answering questions across the board on plays we’re
going to run and when we’re going to run them. He gives you that
confidence as a coach and as a play-caller to get him the ball.

"If you watch the kid practice, this kid sprints on and off the field,
and it sent a message to the rest of them. It started out with just
them, now everybody sprints out there now. It just became contagious.
That’s what I like about him. He’s been on a long road. He’s as old as
I am, but he still goes out there and works hard every day."

Quan Bray wasn't listed among your top seven. How is he progressing?

"He’s getting closer. The playing time for him, his job will be a lot
smaller until he proves that he can handle more and more and more. He
better prove himself on special teams. He better prove himself when he
does get his number called that he can make those type of plays and do the
things we need him to do. And I think he will. The kid works really
hard. He’s so competitive that he gets down on himself and you have to
bring him back. You can’t let one play beat you twice. Hopefully, by midway
through this season, he’ll be a guy you can’t keep off the field."