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Friday, August 6, 2010

Late night notes: Open competition at right tackle

It's another late one, because Auburn had to delay part of practice tonight. No fancy intro or headline-related picture (that's Darvin Adams making a catch, by the way). Just straight to the bullet points:
  • The biggest news is probably that the right tackle competition is wide open. Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes refuted claims that Brandon Mosley had a leg up on the competition. "I’m going to hold out hope for anyone until someone definitely steps up and shows me," Grimes said. "Competition makes everybody better. I’m not in position where I want to hurry up and do it. I want to find out who the best guy is. If we find that out in a week, great. If we find that out the week before we get ready to play that game, that’s OK, too."
  • Grimes did say the starter would probably be one of these three: Mosley, fellow junior college transfer Roszell Gayden or sophomore John Sullen. "I wouldn’t rule out a freshman, either," Grimes said. "I don’t think that would be the case, because I don’t like to do that. But I don’t have any allegiance to anybody, other than the best guy."
  • Grimes was extremely impressed by Sullen's transformation with his body. I'll have more on this in a story for Sunday's paper, so I don't want to spoil too much of it here, but Grimes wants Sullen to be able to play tackle and guard, just so he has some options.
  • Auburn wore shells (helmet and shoulder pads) Friday but head coach Gene Chizik said things were still very controlled. "They really tried to make it a physical practice yet still take care of their teammates," he said. "I thought they did a nice job of controlling practice the way it should have been. I think tonight as a football team we got better in a lot of ways."
  • The Tigers will go shells again Saturday, take Sunday off and don full pads for the first time Monday.
  • Auburn's ranked No. 23 in the preseason USA Today coaches' poll. Predictably, Chizik had no opinion on it. "Obviously nothing matters until the end of the year," he said. "It’s all kind of window-dressing and you've got to see where you are at the end of the year."
  • Chizik on six SEC teams starting in the poll: "In my opinion, it’s the best league in the country, but I”m in it, so what else am I going to say? But I really mean that. You just look at the number of players that were drafted last year, which I think was an all-time high. It’s a great league as we all know, not just because of the history and tradition, but it’s a very talented and a very competitive league."
  • Spoke with DE Craig Sanders for the first time. Antoine Carter, aka "Hot Boy," calls him "The Animal" for the way he goes about business in the weight room. "As long as I've got an iPod, I can stay in the weight room all day," Sanders said.
  • Sanders must have spent a bunch of time in there during the offseason. When he enrolled in January after graduating high school early, he was 225 pounds. Now he's 250. "The offensive linemen, they weighed 300 pounds, most of them, and I came in at 225, they could just throw me around," he said. "So I had to get bigger. So that's why I stayed in the weight room so much."
  • Sanders thinks playing time is looking pretty good right now, whether it's on the regular defense or special teams. Does he feel like a freshman at this point? "I really don't," he said. "I don't know what I feel like, but I don't feel like a freshman. Coming in the spring and stuff, just getting to know the team and everything, it just feels like I've been here for a while."
  • He wears No. 13, an odd choice for a defensive lineman, because his step dad used to. He's had it since Pee Wee football.
  • WR Travante Stallworth said he's close to full speed after suffering an ACL injury last year, but admitted to going slower at times and having a little bit of a limp. The timing of the injury was frustrating last year because he was starting to get playing time. "It was real frustrating," he said. "I started doing real well, started getting in the flow of things and something like that happened. But just got to get back in the flow of things."
  • Stallworth's dad, James, is a Sergeant Major in the Army and will be deployed to Iraq again soon. "I think about it," he said. "But on the field, I try not to let it bother me. Coach Trooper (Taylor) always says, when you get between those white lines, it's just football, so I try not to let it bother me. He knows and everybody else knows, but just pray every day that he leaves all right."
  • WR Shaun Kitchens said he was doing some H-back things in practice. Not surprising, considering at 6-foot-3, 217 pounds but with good mobility, he can be a real physical mismatch for teams. "Catching, routes, just doing multiple tasks is what I'm focusing on," he said. "Blocking, being able to block and being able to do the bulk of things and be a threat. Just mismatches basically. You have to create mismatches for the defense."
  • Kitchens said he models his game after NFL receivers Brandon Marshall and Dez Bryant. Both are big, physical types.
  • We had our first chat with Ladarious Phillips, aka "The 291-Pound Running Back." (Actually, he said he's at 285.) Very quiet kid, at least in front of voice recorders. His teammates nicknamed him "Da Da" (that's pronounced Day-Day). He said the best he's been time in the 40-yard dash was 4.8 seconds and that he'd like to get his weight down to 275.
I'll be back at it late again tomorrow for practice, which has been moved back to 8 p.m. ET for a second straight day.


AUBigCat said...

AB you are truly one of the best in the business!! My daily AU review isn't complete until I hear what you have to say on the matter.

scottie burns said...

He is good, no? :)

Tar Heel Tiger said...

I can't wait to see Da Da totin' the pigskin!