War Eagle Extra has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 4 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Early practice notes: LT Lee Ziemba's right knee injury doesn't appear to be long term

Auburn left tackle Lee Ziemba's right knee injury does not appear to be long term, Gene Chizik said Sunday, although the Tigers' head coach didn't specifically say he's be ready for Clemson this Saturday.

"I still feel like this week will be a week of rehab, obviously," Chizik said. "We'll know more as the week progresses. But right now he's sore. It's just hard for me to say right now. The week's got to progress and we'll have to see more."

Ziemba injured his right knee in the second quarter of Auburn's 17-14 win at Mississippi State on Thursday, leaving for the locker room before halftime. He watched the second half in street clothes.

Ziemba tweeted after the game that he was OK. He followed that up with a tweet yesterday that said his MRI came back negative, showing no tears.

But Chizik wouldn't classify Ziemba as having a clear bill of health Sunday.

"It's going to be a one-day-at-a-time situation that he's going to just have to keep rehabbing it and see where we go," Chizik said.

Ziemba has started 40 consecutive games and is closing in on Will Herring's school record 49 starts.

If Ziemba can't go, Auburn will consider all of its options, which includes junior college transfer Brandon Mosley and sophomore John Sullen at left tackle.

Chizik said running back Mario Fannin is in the same category as Ziemba. Fannin left the game in the fourth quarter after a hard hit at the end of a long run that was negated by a holding call.

He came up holding his left shoulder and had it examined on the sideline. Fannin removed his shoulder pads and stood on the sideline for the remainder of the game.

"I'd lump him into the same category of us just taking it one step at a time with them," Chizik said.

Here are some more flushed-out notes from the Chizik teleconference:
  • Chizik didn't necessarily come out and say freshman Mike Dyer is the starter. He paused for a second to gather his thoughts, then said, "Mike's getting better. Mike's getting more confident and we're getting more confident in Mike, would be accurate."
  • He sounded very high on his freshman back, though. "I think he's done exactly what we've asked him to do. One of the things I was proud of Mike about was we counted on him at the end of the game when the game was on the line to get first downs, to run tough but don't take negative yardage. But more importantly, to protect the ball. When we had to do those things, we went with him and he did it. From a comfort level from a coaching perspective, that helps. Certainly I would think that he's feeling more comfortable being able to do that. At least I hope he is. I think we feel comfortable to continue to work and move forward in that direction."
  • Despite Dyer's progress, quarterback Cam Newton has been Auburn's leading rusher the first two weeks. "I don't prefer it to be that way at all," Chizik said. "I prefer at Auburn right now for the tailbacks to be our leading rushers. Now, I say that, understanding that Cameron does a lot of things just because he can make things happen. We've been really proud of him doing that. But our leading rushers need to be our tailbacks. There's no question in my mind about that."
  • Chizik said Newton needs to be careful when he's at the end of runs. "We're talking to him about that and just being smart about ... you know this is a long season. And really and truly, it's a long game. You start doing that early in the game, it affects how you throw the ball. All of those things. It's a fine line. What you don't want to do is take away playmaking ability from guys that just have it. You've got to be careful with that. At the same time, point well taken. You've got to have guys who do that for a living, run and get hit with the ball in their hand, the most. That's kind of where we're going with it."
  • On WR Trovon Reed's chances of playing. "We're working in that direction. We really want that to happen. We would like that to happen, yes."
  • DT Nick Fairley had a huge week. "When Nick wants to play aggressive, downhill football, he can be a force on our defense," Chizik said. "What we've got to get Nick to do is we've got to get him to do it all the time, every play. You can see that when he decides to do that, he's a really, really good football player. That becomes a huge part of our defense when any defensive lineman plays like that. That's trying to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage."
  • What's the key to getting him to play hard all the time? "You've got to remember Nick doesn't have a ton of experience in this league. He was in junior college. It's a process. I think Nick's got a lot of confidence in what he can do. He needs to open it up and do that every snap. I think you got a good taste, against a good offensive line with four returning starters, I think you got a taste of what kind of force he can be. He's got to do it every snap."
  • No new information on LB Craig Stevens or CB Jonathon Mincy's status. "That's going to be … the status of them … if you seem them back out there … you want me to recite it?" Chizik said. "You all know it." Yes, we reporters have heard it. If they're on the field, they've done what the coaches have asked to ... yadda ... yadda ... yadda. As sick as Chizik is of having to answer this question, we're just as tired of asking it.
  • Although it didn't come away with points on its last drive against MSU, Auburn milked the clock for all it was worth. "It was good to see that. Nobody ever wants a game to be that close, but as we know in this league they're all going to be close. That's the way they're going to be. So again, us winning a game on the road in a very tough environment against a very good team that way, winning it that way at the end, both offensively and defensively, I think that matters. I think that was big. Just sometimes it's the way you win that matters as much as you winning it."
  • Some more on that subject: "The ability for us to be able to do both is built into the offense for whatever the scenario is to help us win. That's really what we did Saturday night. I wouldn't read into it as any premeditated tempo that we were going to try to do the whole game. A lot of it is just waiting to see as the game unfolds how we want to do it with the ability to do it."
  • That being said, Auburn had four second-half drives that stalled out in MSU territory and came away with 0 points. "That was disappointing. It might be some of the best field position we've had in an entire game in succession, maybe since I've been here. And I hope that would have translated into a couple of touchdowns somewhere, and it didn't. And there were various reasons. It was mainly execution. It was a penalty when we had a long run, could have went down and scored some points. It was a combination of things. But we can't do the same thing this week and win."
  • Freshman CB Chris Davis has emerged as Auburn's dime back, really by necessity, with Mincy out and Anthony Gulley not ready for a big role on defense. "We told Chris that this is your role right down on the defense," Chizik said. "When the game's on the line, everybody is counting on you. You've got to get it done. That's what we had to do."
  • Chizik on the floating pass that Kodi Burns threw back across the field to quarterback Cam Newton. "It was a high ball, but he's 6-6," he said. "You can throw 'em high. We worked that one. You can throw some of those up to Cameron and he can get to some of those things."
  • Auburn hasn't run much Wildcat this year, partly because Newton is such an effective runner. But the package is still there, and Newton even does some "Wildcat-ish things," Chizik said. "We don't feel like there's less of a need for it. There's always a need for it. It's a big part of our offense. The timing and all that play into when we're going to do it."
  • Quindarius Carr muffed a punt, but Chizik liked how he bounced back. "The good thing is that he came back and he wasn't rattled from it. He came back to still catch the ball. That's an improvement over last year." Sounds like Carr won't lose his job this week.
  • ESPN GameDay is coming to Auburn for the first time in a year and a half. "But just for our fan base and for Auburn football, it's great. It's really exciting," Chizik said. I'm happy for our kids because we've earned it. I want it to be exciting for our fans because they deserve it. It'll be a neat time for us at Auburn."


Tar Heel Tiger said...

That's great news for Ziemba. I expect he'll at least keep his consecutive starts streak alive even if he can't go the whole game.

Tar Heel Tiger said...

btw, why do they call it "word verification" when it's usually not a word?

You can consider that a rhetorical question.

Tar Heel Tiger said...

flushed-out notes = dessert. YUMMY!!!

AUsome04 said...

Wow, that's pretty interesting about Gameday coming to Auburn. AB, what do you think is the reason? Are there just not many other big games this weekend or is Cam starting a buzz with the big sports network? Just wondering what's your opinion.

Clint Richardson said...

Lee's mother, Dawn, is friends with me on Facebook, and I sent her an email asking how he was, and she said he was just fine, just some "lineman arthritas." He'll be fine especially with this long week to rest.