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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Late notes: WR Pierre-Louis back on roster

AUBURN, Ala. — As promised, wide receiver Philip Pierre-Louis is back on Auburn's expanded roster now that school has started.

The redshirt freshman practiced with the team Tuesday night after sorting out what coaches termed "personal things" this summer. He had not been with the team since the spring.

The 5-foot-8, 157-pound receiver from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was expected to be a big part of Tony Franklin's offense last year but tore ligaments in his knee after returning the opening kickoff of Auburn's first game.

He returned in the spring but wasn't a full participant, wearing a knee brace and orange, non-contact jersey that prevented him from participating in any of the team's scrimmages.

Asked if Pierre-Louis has some catching up to do after missing 15 spring practices and 11 days in August, head coach Gene Chizik agreed but didn't elaborate: "Yes, that would be very fair to say."

Auburn practiced in pads Tuesday, but Pierre-Louis, since he was just added to the roster, can only participate in shorts his first three days.

"He looked like he was running fine," Chizik said.

Although no longer in Franklin's system, Pierre-Louis said last spring he thinks he'll be a part of current offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn's plans.

"I fit into it well," he said. "Everybody thinks it's a spread offense; it's really not a spread offense. It's a run-based offense, it's a play-action offense. But yet, I think it's a great offense and it really does help you, so I like the offense.

Here are a few more notes:
  • Chizik clarified LB Eltoro Freeman's injury. Apparently the cast on his right hand is not the reason he is not practicing right now. It's a hamstring injury. There is not set date for the sophomore's return to practice.
  • He also commented (sort of) on freshman OL Aubrey Phillips' condition. Phillips, as you know, transferred from Florida State this summer but had a non-football related medical episode that has kept him out of practice. "Aubrey is into the swing of everything trying to rehab and just addressing some issues, medically, we’re really going to have to watch," Chizik said. "But he’s doing a great job. He’s in the flow of everything. He’s back in school. We’re very encouraged by where he’s at." Asked if Phillips will play football again, Chizik refused to speculate. "I’m fairly confident but I’m not a doctor so I have no idea," he said. "He’s doing really well."
  • Freshman safety Daren Bates, who I wrote a story on tomorrow, took some reps with the first-team offense. "He did," Chizik said. "Daren did a nice job in the scrimmage and we’re really trying to ramp up his reps and see where he can fit in the defense. Again, another young guy to step in and see if he has an opportunity to help us."
  • Chizik has been impressed that Bates, a late arrival to camp because of a delay in his academic clearance, stayed in shape: "It’s really pretty amazing. The guy came in and showed up three or four days later and has really done a great job. He’s a great kid. He really cares about football. It really shows up. You can tell.Physically, I think he’s got a chance to play in this league early, I believe. We just have to know mentally if he can do the things we ask him to do. He’s shown flashes every day he’s getting better."
  • Chizik on Tuesday's practice: "We had a couple days off of rest that we needed with school starting and things of that nature, so kind of got back in the swing of things tonight with a full-padded practice and I thought we got after it real well. Knocked a little bit of the rust back, but overall a really nice tempo. I thought we got better today."
  • Auburn practiced this late at night to make it easier to account for the start of classes. "We're doing it until we get our class schedule is all kind of fixed," Chizik said. "But normally we'll be in afternoon practices. This week right now there's just so much jockeying going on with schedules and things, dropping and adding, that we just felt going at night would clear all the little issues up for the day and we could just get focused on getting everybody on the team here." He plans to go late again Tuesday night and possibly Thursday before returning to a normal schedule.
  • Chizik was adamant that the team would resolve the backup quarterback situation before the season starts. "Absolutely," he said. "We’re going to do all we can to evaluate Tyrik (Rollison). Neil does a great job. We have a very good idea where Neil (Caudle) fits in the role of the offense. He’s done a great job too. We’re just gonna see where the young guys fit."
  • Chizik said the team might "double teach" some linebackers at different positions to create depth. "It's a little bit of a mix-and-match scenario for us," he said.
  • Freshman WR Anthony Gulley worked some at the 3 position where H-back Mario Fannin works. Those two are completely different body sizes (Gulley's 5-9, 176 pounds; Fannin's 5-11, 215 pounds). Apparently they want to try have a speed option in that role as well as size.
  • Dee Ford's brief experiment as a linebacker has ended for now. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound freshman moved back to defensive end after trying some outside linebacker last week. He's happy to be there. "Yeah, because I played end all my life," Ford said. "It's instinct, so it's good."
  • QB Kodi Burns on his new role as a QB/WR/Wildcat guy: "I do a little bit of everything. I'm still playing quarterback so I line up there a lot, working with coach Malzahn after practice. I don't get reps like I usually do because during those team settings and 7 on 7s, I'm at wide receiver working there. Pretty much, I'm all over the place."
  • Keep in mind: Burns has never caught a pass in his life. He's also rarely had to block. We'll see if he can learn these things quick enough for the start of the season.
  • Burns on the Wildcat: "When you got Onterio McCalebb to worry about and all these different weapons, it keeps the defense running lateral. And with me being the quarterback as well, you don't know if I'm going to throw it or run it, so it's really difficult to stop. Just like I said, hit it up the middle or read the defense."

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