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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pre-practice notes: Auburn burns redshirt on cornerback Ryan White out of necessity

With limited bodies in the secondary, Auburn burned the redshirt on cornerback Ryan White against Ole Miss on Saturday. Head coach Gene Chizik said the Tigers didn't have any other choice.

"Two weeks ago, we had to make the decision to play him," Chizik said. "We had to take him out of the redshirt, which we didn’t want to do. But we’re at that place and time where we have no choice."

Auburn brought only four cornerbacks to Oxford: Neiko Thorpe, Demond Washington, Chris Davis and White.

T'Sharvan Bell has missed the last two games with a hamstring problem. Anthony Morgan is "banged up."

White was the next option. The true freshman got a late start in August after trying his hand at quarterback the first two weeks of two-a-days. He spent all season on the scout team, mimicking option quarterbacks whenever the Tigers would face one.

Auburn began gearing him up for special teams work during LSU week. White didn't make his debut until Ole Miss, however.

"Against LSU, all of a sudden it was ‘Wow, I’m redshirting, now I’ve got to go play,’" Chizik said. "That’s pretty eye-opening for a young guy. We’re trying to bring him along in practice every day so he gets a little less of a ‘wow’ factor for him when he gets in there.”

White got in as a cornerback with the reserves late in the game.

"At the end of the day, it was ‘Man, I’ve got a chance to help the team win,'" Chizik said. "That’s the ultimate goal for all of us: we want to win. And he understands that’s his role that he’s got to serve on the team.”

Chizik said Auburn's depth situation isn't too much different than last year.

'It’s just that this time last year it would have been a walk-on. Now it’s a true freshman," he said. "We don’t like to do that to the best of our ability, but we have to do what we have to do."

Auburn has now played 16 true freshmen this year. Ten are currently redshirting.

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Some other longer notes and quotes from today's teleconference:
  • Chizik likes how Auburn has handled the BCS hubbub: "I think our coaches have really done a good job of carrying on day-to-day as they usually do. I think our players have really done a good job of shielding themselves from all the outside opinions and things of that nature and really tried to be a one-day-at-a-time team. And I just feel like that has happened to the best of our ability. And Saturday, again, we had to go and play an extremely tough road game, and I thought they focused and played well and kind of blocked out all the outside possible distractions."
  • Auburn could drop to No. 2 in the BCS rankings this week (although ESPN's Brad Edwards said it will remain No. 1). Want to guess if Chizik cares about this? "No. We've just got to keep doing our part," he said. "I don't really have the energy for it, to be honest with you. I'm just trying to get better every day along with the rest of our team. Our job is to keep winning. None of that is in our control. We're playing to the best of our ability, we're coaching to the best of our ability. If we weren't doing that, then I'd have a concern. But as long as they're playing to the best of their ability in terms of effort and how they're being coached and we're doing the things that need to as coaches to win, that's what I look at every day."
  • No news on the status of TE Philip Lutzenkirchen, who changed into street clothes during the Ole Miss game at one point. Chizik didn't give any specifics on what was bothering the sophomore. "He's just beat up like everybody else," he said.
  • Lots of stuff on Washington today. I think I'm doing my Tuesday story on him, but here's a good quote by Chizik about him: "Demond wants the challenges. He likes to be challenged. That’s why he’s so good on kickoffs. He’s a competitor. He wants the ball. He wants you to throw at him. I think Demond’s, probably over the last couple weeks, become a better football player. He’s become more productive.”
  • Chizik gave some kudos to defensive tackle Zach Clayton for running down an Ole Miss running back down the sideline and making a tackle Saturday. "It's unbelievable," Chizik said. "Iit's phenomenal. It's just great effort. There's another guy who doesn't get near the recognition week in, week out he deserves. He's been a real force for us, I think, down there inside."
  • Daren Bates didn't travel. Jonathan Evans filled in and made five tackles, including a half-tackle for a loss. Eltoro Freeman got some time too. "I thought they filled in fine," Chizik said. "I don't think there was a whole noticeable drop-off in my opinion."
  • Chizik said quarterback Cam Newton has some things to improve on. Namely: tackling. "We're still evaluating that. We're going to do some extra drills Tuesday to make sure that he's got the proper body position," Chizik joked. "He's got to be a little more athletic when he makes catches, too. He was way too close on (to the sideline) on that. We've got to work on that."
  • Is there anything else Newton can do right now? "If we did, he could probably do all the above," he said. "He's that good of an athlete. Right now, we're going to limit it to handing off, running, throwing and now catching."

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