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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Late night notes: Luper wants more out of RBs

Auburn’s rushing offense has thrived this year, thanks to quarterback Cam Newton’s contributions.

Running backs coach Curtis Luper issued strong criticism to his group, however, insisting it hasn’t played “well enough.”

“We’ve got to do better,” Luper said. “We’ve got to be more productive. I’m looking for us to contribute and help this football team more.”

Newton leads the Tigers with 672 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. The tailbacks have combined for 899 yards and five scores.

Freshman Mike Dyer has 390 yards, but he’s fumbled twice in the last three games.

“He’s improved some but not as much as I want him to improve,” Luper said. “My expectations for him are high. His expectations for himself, they’re high. But I’m expecting more. Maybe Saturday.”

Senior Mario Fannin is back from a shoulder injury and has run well, carrying 18 times for 139 yards the last two weeks.

“He’s moved the chains, but I need more than just the chains moving,” Luper said. “I need touchdowns. I need them in the end zone. It will take some pressure off Darvin (Adams) and Cam.”

Luper said 165-pound speedster Onterio McCalebb (345 yards) is a good option on the perimeter but that Auburn will “leave that inside, tough stuff up to Mario and Mike.”

“We need two or three more play-makers,” Luper said.

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Here are some more notes and quotes from Wednesday's interviews:
  • Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino served as Auburn’s offensive coordinator in 2002,. Tigers cornerbacks coach Phillip Lolley remembers many late nights sharing cups of coffee in the athletic complex. “He’s like the guy that we’ve got,” Lolley said, referring to Gus Malzahn. “He’s relentless around the clock. He’s going to work at the game all the time.”
  • Lolley remembers trying to pick Petrino’s brain for some insight as to how he operates an offense and what might give him trouble. He had little luck. “He’s not the kind of guy who offers a whole lot,” Lolley said. “He figures he might play against you one day. He thinks ahead on that too.”
  • Head coach Gene Chizik, who was Auburn’s defensive coordinator at the time, said there was nothing remarkable about he and Petrino’s friendship. “We have professional relationship, like I do with everybody else in the league,” Chizik said.
  • Two Tigers were added to midseason watch lists for national awards: Newton and defensive tackle Nick Fairley. Newton, the SEC leader in rushing and pass efficiency (180.73) was named to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, given to the most outstanding college player. Fairley, who leads the SEC in sacks (5) and tackles for a loss (12.5), is in contention for the Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s top defensive player.
  • Devin Gaulden, a cornerback from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is no longer an Auburn commit, according to AuburnUndercover.com. Gaulden, a 2011 recruit, gave his verbal commitment to the Tigers on July 22 but recently took an official visit to Boston College, according to Rivals. Auburn has 14 commitments for 2011. Teams can sign up to 28 in February and admit as many as 25 each year.
  • Chizik said it looks like freshman Steven Clark will handle the punting, but the coaches won’t decide until after tomorrow’s practice.
  • Freshman WR Trovon Reed (knee) is “getting to the point now where it’s going to be redshirt time," Chizik said. Because Reed has played in one game, Auburn would need to seek a medical hardship waiver for him to redshirt.
  • LB Eltoro Freeman remains “day-by-day” with various bumps and bruises.
  • LOTS of good stuff about Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, which is disappointing, because it was too late to get any of it into my story about Mallett for tomorrow's paper. Here's a sampling, though:
  • Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, who first met Mallett at a few Arkansas camps when he was assistant there for Houston Nutt: "I think we’re playing against another great SEC quarterback. No doubt, big arm, big target, big NFL prospect. He looks like the typical NFL guy. Quick release. He’s very hard to tackle. He’s not that fast of a guy, but he doesn’t let you sack him. He doesn’t let you tackle him. He does a great job of running the offense. He’s up there as one of the top ones in this league. We’re going to have our hands full. ... He’s a sight to watch. He’s got everyone around here awake thinking about what we’re going to do."
  • Lolley: "It’s a tremendous challenge. You’re facing a quarterback that’s best in the SEC as far as passing yards. He’s an experienced quarterback, been in some football games. He’s big, strong, throws the ball very well. I’ve been in this conference a long time and he throws it as good as anybody when he’s on in this conference."
  • Safeties coach Tommy Thigpen: "He's the best quarterback in the league. He has the biggest arm in the league. And they do a tremendous job of reading coverages. He's a definite prototypical type of kid. You see us as safeties and we're trying to see exactly what he's looking at and the things that he does on the pre-snap and then even when the ball is snapped, he is seeing how you're rotating on the back end. Tremendous player. Smart player."
  • Mallett can apparently scramble, too: "If you look at the play against Texas A&M, the one they threw the 70-yard touchdown, there were two guys there that just fell off of him. He's got that Cam Newton-strength where you kind of underestimate how strong the kid is. And we learned it last year on the goal line where he ran over one of our defensive backs for a first down and then he ran for a touchdown. So you kind of underestimate him because he's a big kid, you don't think he can run. But he's a long strider who covers a whole lot of ground."
  • That's not to say the coaches aren't impressed by the receivers. Thigpen said they get you when they're out in space and "you've got to tackle them on a dead run." He was impressed by their depth. "It's not just one guy that can beat you," he said. "You've got a quarterback who can throw it anywhere on the football field and then if you're trying to play man-to-man coverage, you're basically isolated."
  • Lolley said the type of defenses Auburn has called haven't been conducive for a lot of interceptions. "Down the stretch here, we’re going to start having to tighten things up and play a little tougher on the teams we’re fixing to play as far as the receivers," he said.
  • Lolley said he's been avoiding certain matchups for Demond Washington, who is 5-foot-9. "Demond is very quick, very instinctive about certain things," he said. "But I think his size in certain matchups, I don’t want him involved in."
  • He said he's been putting Neiko Thorpe on an opponent's bigger, more physical receivers lately. "Normally we don’t like to do that because in the speed-up offenses today, they’ll run you to death," he said. "We train them to be right, left, learn each and every position. But now as the season’s rolling on, we’re trying to get more matchups with the corners. We’ll do the same this week." Lolley said Arkansas usually doesn't try to wear teams down with its tempo.
  • Rocker said he could sense some frustration in his linemen last week after they couldn't get to the Kentucky quarterbacks, who got the ball out quickly most of the time. The Tigers had one sack and no hurries. "As a player it was frustrating," he said. "Guys would come to the sidelines and say, 'It’s coming out.’ Hey, there’s nothing we can do about that. We’ve got to find a way. We’ve got to be faster. We’ve got to be better getting there. It’s going to be the same this week. It’s going to be hard to get there, but we’re preparing a way to get there. We’ve got to be competitive all day."
  • Rocker said not to discount Arkansas' running game, especially when the focus is on Mallett. "They want to see if they can run the ball and, after that, the big man throws it over the top," Rocker said. "He’s got a pro coach over there. They’ve got the answer."


AUsome04 said...

Well, I have a solution to all those superlatives the defensive coaches just threw out for Arkansas' offense: Come out laying Da Wood!

Hit they a%# in the mouth all day long. I'm talking about everybody: Mallett, receivers, Olinemen, RBs, Petrino, waterboys, e'errbody. WAR EAGLE

War Eagle AC-47 said...

We have those two extra playmakers in Lutzenkirchen and Eric Smith. Both have great hands, can block, and make yards after catch. They have both proven themselves ready to go, we just need to get the ball to 'em.

brian said...

got alot of butterflies about this one.but,i believe in auburn and love it!