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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Late practice notes: DE Carter is back following offseason surgery; RG Isom allowed to practice

AUBURN, Ala. — Defensive end Antoine Carter had a tough time waiting to get back on the field the last few months. The junior had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on April 7, with Dr. James Andrews scoping his knee and anchoring things back in place.

“It was tough, but I made it through and I’m here now,’ Carter said. “That just made me more hungry, made me want to come back. Now I’m like a tiger wanting to get out of a cage.”

Carter played in a game for the first time last Saturday against Ball State, working with the second team and getting in on three tackles. His return is a boost to a line that has basically operated with
Antonio Coleman, Michael Goggans and freshman Dee Ford at defensive end the first few weeks.

Carter, who still wears a bulky brace, will face a challenge against a physical Tennessee offensive line that is sure to test the strength of that knee.

“I’ll be confident. ... I think Ol’ Sparky’s going to hold me down,” Carter said, slapping his knee.

Follow the blog on Twitter. Also read some of these other notes ...
  • Right guard Byron Isom might be serving a team-imposed suspension, but that doesn’t mean the junior is not practicing. Chizik said Isom, who was not allowed to play in the Tigers’ game against Ball State last week, has been working with the team during practice. Chizik gave no update as to when Isom would be allowed to play in a game again. “If you guys see him out there, he’s going to do all the things that we said that he needs to do to get out there and play,” Chizik said. Freshman John Sullen started in Isom’s place last week. Junior Bart Eddins and sophomore Jared Cooper could get some time there as well this week.
  • Anthony Gulley and Demond Washington have been returning punts during practice this week, cornerback Walt McFadden said. Running back Onterio McCalebb said he's been fielding some punts this week as well. "They haven’t named the guy who’s going to be back there yet," McCalebb said.
  • McCalebb sounds like he's up to the challenge. "I’ve been wanting to do it since day one," he said. "But they wouldn’t put me back there because I was doing a whole bunch of other stuff."
  • Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn doesn't mind scoring on quick drives like the Tigers did last week, when their first four touchdown drives each lasted less than two minutes. "We just take it whatever way it comes," he said. "We were able to make some big plays and we had some short drives and we were able to score some points."
  • That kind of quick scoring has been tough on Auburn's defense, which has been on the field a whole lot as a result. The Tigers' opponents have a 32:15 to 27:45 advantage in time of possession this year. "You'd like to do both," Malzahn said of scoring quick and keeping the defense off the field. "You never want to put your defense in a bind. So we do want to speed up the game. We do want to have a lot of plays. So if it works out with time of possession, that's good."
  • Malzahn said Auburn has other options at Wildcat if Kodi Burns is injured and can't go. He declined to name anybody specific.
  • Auburn has practiced with a silent count during practice to deal with the anticipated crowd noise. "It doesn’t really change anything I do," center Ryan Pugh said. "We just have to practice for the noise. If we get up early you can take the crowd out of it. If not, we’ll play with the crowd and whole time and I’m sure we’ll manage."
  • Tennessee's Lane Kiffin sounds like he's intrigued by Malzahn's offense. “There’s so much stuff going on around it,” he said . “I talked to my dad the other night and he said it’s like trying to read a book with someone waving their hand in front of the book — trying to look at it, what’s going on, but you can’t really see it. You can’t really focus because there’s so much misdirection and so much shifting motion.”
  • I wrote my story tomorrow about the matchup between Malzahn's offense and Monte Kiffin's Tennessee defense. Here's what Pugh said about Monte's D: "He just does what does. The same stuff he probably did with the Buccaneers. I’m sure it’s just a little more refined, maybe not as complex."
  • Wide receiver Darvin Adams on going up against Tennessee's all-world safety Eric Berry: "When it's a big name or a top player, it definitely does get you excited. It shows what you can do or what you can't do."
  • Safety Daren Bates respects Berry quite a bit. "I've looked at him on YouTube a couple times. He is a hard hitter, which I like. He comes downhill in coverage. He's a caliber player. I can look up to him as someone I'd like to be like, him and Taylor Mays, the top 2 safeties."
  • Bates said head coach Gene Chizik told him to settle down after he got a little too hyped following a tackle last week. "I felt like that game was just a stepping stone for this coming weekend and I was just hyped," he said. "He had to settle me down and told me to celebrate with my teammates next time."
  • Tennessee likes to run the ball. Auburn know this. "I think we can be physical with them," Bates said. "We like to be physical. We've got physical players on the d-line and linebackers so I don't think it's going to be a problem. They're playing into our hands, actually. We're going to man up with them and play physical with them."
  • Coleman is a leader because he says quotes like this and backs it up: "If you step out on the field in my 11, you're going to be ready."
  • Coleman's been wearing a cast on one of his hands. He's not fond of it. "I'm down on the line," he said. "I've got to have my hands. I've got to shoot my hands. I've got to get off blocks. I'm still adjusting to it. I'm messing with the trainers every day, but it's for my own safety and I respect that."
  • Coleman hasn't been too thrilled with how the defense has played. "It doesn't sit with me... at all," he said. "We're a much better defense than that. To give up 30 points to Ball State? That's just bad. Like I said before, we can't do that. We're a much better defense than that -- much better unit than that. We're making a lot of small mistakes. Guys not fitting like they're supposed to and leaving guys wide open. You get in the SEC and you can get blown out just like that. We can't go down to Tennessee with that or any of these other games we've got left. It doesn't sit well with me at all. I don't like it."
  • Here's how he's dealing with it: "Met in a meeting and I just told them this is not a great thing. Opponents look at us on film and say, 'Ball State hung 30 on these guys.' It makes you look vulnerable on defense. Just talking to the guys, it's a lot of small things. So when a guy is in practice and he misses a fit or misses a tackle, I'm all in his ear. I feel that's my duty to do that just to make us a better team."
  • LB Craig Stevens said the stats from the Ball State game are a little deceiving. "We played well," he said. "I don't even remember what quarter they started scoring all those points. I think it's deceiving. We tried to work some young guys in later in the game and later on I think we just pulled off a little bit in the head."
  • Stevens on not being ranked: "We talked about it the other week. Sooner or later if we keep winning, they're going to have to show us. We're used to not getting no love around here. Even when we were No. 2, we weren't getting no highlights on SportsCenter. We kind of used to it. I know the older guys are used to it. We used it as motivation, like we always do, just to go out there and keep winning because sooner or later we'll have to get on there. They'll have to show us some kind of love."


clint.pattersuhn said...

Maybe I missed something, but are you sure Carter is going to be tested by a tough TN defense if he's on the D-Line as well? Did the SEC announce a D-on-D segment of the game I'm unaware of?

Great article in any case, thanks for daily run down.

Andy Bitter said...

Touche. Of course I meant offensive line. It's fixed now.

clint.pattersuhn said...

Ha, I guessed as much but couldn't be sure there wasn't a D-on-D portion added after recalling last year's AU-MSU game.