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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Practice notes: Auburn shifts focus to La. Tech

AUBURN, Ala. — After three weeks of focusing on itself, Auburn is finally turning its attention to Louisiana Tech.

Head coach Gene Chizik has slowly added bits of game preparation into the Tigers’ daily routine, splitting practices up between fundamentals and scout work for their season opener against the Bulldogs on Sept. 5 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

“It’s kind of been a breath of fresh air,” offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said. “You can tell our guys have kind of raised their level. I know it’s getting close to the first game when you actually game-plan specifically for a team. It’s been good for our players and our coaches.”

The Tigers have practices today and Friday before an off day Saturday. They’ll begin their regular game-week routine on Sunday, something players have been itching to do for a while.

“It gets old after a while going against the first-team offense, everyone out there banging and stuff, getting little nicks and bruises,” linebacker Craig Stevens said. “Now you get a chance to see the other team you’ll see out on game day.”

Follow the blog on Twitter. Also, read some more observations from post-practice interviews ...
  • Prior to his return Tuesday, the last time injury-riddled linebacker Adam Herring practiced with the team was Iron Bowl week last November. Apparently, he has picked up where he left off. “I thought when he came back he was going to be out of shape,” Stevens said. “He’s not too out of shape. He’s been running around out there, making plays. He knows all the calls and stuff. ... I think he’ll be ready for the season.”
  • Herring, who played in 11 games last year mostly on special teams, missed the spring, summer and first part of August with a variety of undisclosed injuries. Now that he’s back, the 6-foot-1, 216-pound sophomore provides a boost to a linebacking corps low on numbers. In addition to being another body on the field, he’s versatile, able to play in the middle and on the strong side. “He’s fighting hard to get back in the mix,” defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. “I was real pleased with his initial deal. It looked like he had been playing, it didn’t look like he had been watching. So that was positive to see. He’s a guy that has a motor. He’s shown some natural instincts for the ball yesterday and took another step forward today.”
  • Stevens on Herring: “I think he’ll be able to help us out in the long run.”
  • Former Tigers quarterback Randy Campbell was unanimously nominated to fill the District 6 position on the Auburn Board of Trustees currently held by Paul Spina, according to a university press release. The Alabama state senate must approve the nomination before Campbell joins the board. Campbell played at Auburn from 1981-83, the last two years of his career overlapping with Bo Jackson’s. He helped lead the Tigers to the 1983 SEC title.
  • He graduated in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial operations management. Campbell currently lives in Shoal Creek, Ala., and is the president of Campbell Financial Partners and Harland Partners, both in Birmingham.
  • Freshman QB Tyrik Rollison returned to practice after missing Tuesday’s session with the flu. He was not wearing a surgical mask as a precaution.
  • RG Byron Isom got some reps Wednesday. He missed a few practices last week with an undisclosed injury.
  • LG Mike Berry has been working at every guard, center and tackle just to stay ready in case he needs to be moved around. "You just have to learn how to tie it all in together," he said. "You have to be a big-picture type learner. There are different techniques at each position. As far as everything else, it's pretty basic." This does not speak well for Auburn's offensive line depth.
  • Malzahn and Roof both said the depth chart is not yet complete, but it’s not bound to surprise many players. “I think everybody knows where they stand,” Stevens said.
  • Roof, in fact, joked that the depth chart was 91.3 percent complete. "Things clear up, but there's different situations that come and go by packages," he said. "We pretty much have got to the point where we're pretty set on things, but you don't want to ever have people feel like they don't have a chance to compete and earn playing time. We look at all the tape from all the kids, whether they're scouts or whoever, so that's something we keep a beat on."
  • This always seems to happen after I write a story about someone. I led yesterday's notebook with an item about walk-on linebacker Wade Christopher. Then Roof has this gem of a quote today: "He's been an Iron Man. He's played all three linebacker positions. He's been an Iron Man. I think he's earned the respect of his teammates and certainly his coaches. He's a guy that always knows what to do and he's always available and always willing. You ask, 'Can you do this?' He says, 'Yeah coach I got it, I know what to do.' As a coach, you have a lot of confidence and respect kids like that." Kind of wish I had that yesterday.
  • Roof has been happy with what LB Eltoro Freeman has done while battling injuries this August. "He's done a good job throughout the course of two-a-days when he's been nicked of getting mental reps and studying the game," Roof said. "He does a lot of extra work on himself, additional time that's voluntary. He's been able to stay up with the speed of the game and get mental reps, which any of the time there's first-year player -- you hear me talk so much about the transition from high school or junior college to the SEC ..."
  • Roof on DL Nick Fairley, a junior college transfer who has worked at a variety of spots on the line: "I've seen him do some good things. He seems to have some natural instincts, still got to work to become more physical and the speed of the game and the tempo of the game. He's gotten better each day. He's not where we want him to be, but he's gotten better. I have every reason to believe that he'll develop into an awful good player for us."
  • Don't know if you've heard, but RB Onterio McCalebb is FAST. This quote from Malzahn prove it: "He’s a burst, now. He can be a 1-play drive type guy if we can get him in the right situation. He’s gotten better and better. He’s tough. Coach (Curtis) Luper has really strained him and stressed him to try to get ready. He’s responded and showed a lot of toughness. He’s not a physically big type guy but he’s pretty tough."
  • Stevens on tackling McCalebb: "It's hard trying to catch him but once you get him, you know he don't feel you because he's light. The problem is just catching him. If you catch him, you'll put something on him. ... You're going to have to get ready for his speed when you see him in the game. Ben and Mario, they're more power and they're still elusive with it, but Onterio, he's just straight speed and you'll have to get ready for that."
  • But does he have any moves? "Nah," Stevens said. "I haven't really seen him put too many moves on people. He just basically, once he gets the ball, he just runs past everybody for real, to tell you the truth. Just runs and uses his speed to run past everybody."


JunkerJorge said...

Thanks!!!! Im fired up

AUBigCat said...

I guess you dont need moves if you leave the defenders in the dust, huh?