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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Full practice notes: WR Philip Pierre-Louis back in coaching staff's good graces

AUBURN, Ala. -- Wide receiver Philip Pierre-Louis made some plays in Saturday's scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium but was seen on crutches later in the day after suffering what is believed to be a knee injury, according to the Auburn Sports Blog. The severity is unknown.

Nevertheless, the sophomore wide receiver appears to be getting back in the staff’s good graces.

“He’s worked his way back out of the doghouse and he’s on the field, and that’s been exciting to see,” wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor said. “Because you want to see a kid bounce back. He’s come light years from where he was last year.”

Pierre-Louis missed all of 2008 after suffering a knee injury on the opening kickoff of the season.

He returned last spring but struggled to gain a foothold with the new staff. He briefly left the team to deal with personal issues last August and did not return to the field until the Tennessee game as a punt returner.

He finished the year with 11 punt returns for a 4.5-yard average but didn’t catch a single pass.

Although the condition of Pierre-Louis’ knee remains something to monitor, Taylor has been encouraged by what he’s seen this spring from the diminutive receiver, especially from a blocking standpoint.

“I’d rather say ‘Whoa,’ than ‘Sic ’em,’” Taylor said. “And he’s one that you have to pull back and not throw in there.”

Some other notes and quotes from Saturday's scrimmage:
  • Taylor also said Quindarius Carr made a big catch, only to commit a "boneheaded" penalty by jumping offsides right afterward.
  • As I wrote earlier, the quarterback field appears as though it will be narrowed soon. That said, the quarterbacks remain in the dark about when the race will be narrowed, even though they know it’s coming. “You’ve got to make do when you’re in there,” Cam Newton said. “I’m really not even worried about it. I’m really just trying to go out there and prove to my team — prove to myself, first and foremost — that I’m capable of running this offense.”
  • Newton led the most drives of the day and threw a touchdown pass, although he lost a fumble when Antoine Carter knocked it out of his hands.
  • Newton is still adjusting to the tempo of the offense. "Oh man, (offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn's) going to get after it. That's probably one of the hardest things to adjust to, when you make a big play you kind of want to jog, jog, jog. But not with Malzahn. Coach Malzahn wants you to get down there and run the next play. You kind of see it from the defense, how they were lagging and they were tired. "
  • Interesting comment here by Newton that speaks well of Auburn's skill players: "I'm just trying to get it into the playmakers' hands. The one thing about this team right here, we've got a lot of playmakers. The teams that I'm used to being on, I have to make the plays. I'm lucky to be on this team because the guys make it real easy for me."
  • Senior left guard Bart Eddins, who has battled knee injuries his entire career, was on crutches and had one of his knees in a brace Saturday. Eddins had been working with the first team in place of projected starter Mike Berry, who is not participating in spring drills after undergoing offseason knee surgery.
  • Neil Caudle sounds confident about his ability to run the offense, especially since he's been through this process, with this coaching staff, before. "I know which reads to make, where to line everybody up and what everybody's supposed to do," he said. "That makes the game slow down a lot. It's not even close to where we were last year. Last year at this time, we were lost. We didn't know exactly what we're doing. This year we know what to do and we can go out there and make plays. Go faster, get more snaps. When you go faster, you don't have to worry about putting guys in certain places. You worry about what you're doing and you just go out there and do it."
  • Caudle said he thinks Auburn will get the ball to sophomore WR Emory Blake more this year. "He's got tremendous talent," Caudle said. "It's fun to get the ball in his hands, because you know he can score whenever he gets the ball." Blake, true to form, caught a touchdown pass Saturday.
  • This is not coming from a coach, but you get the sense that Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley will be the two quarterbacks who's reps will be lowered in upcoming weeks. Moseley commented Saturday about adjusting to the pace of a live scrimmage vs. his work on the scout team last year. "I don't think you ever get completely used to the pace," he said. "Even if you're running as max as you can, he's still telling you to run it, run it. It's definitely something to adjust to, especially coming from scout team, you know, trying to get the defense a look to getting out there and running the plays as fast as possible, it's a huge change and it's something I'm steadily getting used to today."
  • Moseley led one long drive Saturday and was proud of the fact that he didn't turn the ball over at all.
  • A number of players rotated in at left guard in Eddins’ absence, with sophomore John Sullen getting some time with the ones. Sullen started one game last year as a true freshman. Andrew Parmer, Jared Cooper and Blake Burgess also worked at left guard in the scrimmage. “At that position, we’ve got to continue to develop some depth,” head coach Gene Chizik said.
  • From the sounds of it, the offense wore the defense down with its tempo. Malzahn said the pace of the offense was "better than probably any time it was last year." Some defenders took notes. "The tempo was fast. It was off the charts, but that's what we expect from a Malzahn offense," linebacker Josh Bynes said. "You don't get that really in the SEC. But defensively we need to get better, even when we're tired, our body language shows. We've got to get better at open field tackling and getting off blocks and making plays, things like that."

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