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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bonus practice notes: Tigers hope to stay sharp during five-day holiday break

I put up some quick notes before. Here's some longer ones now that we've typed out some quotes:
  • Head coach Gene Chizik on what Auburn did before the holiday break: "We wanted to get back to the fundamentals of football — blocking and tackling. It wasn't so much scheming although we looked at some general things. For the most part, we were trying to get back into the flow of fundamental football. We felt like we needed to get in the swing of things. That's what we've done for the past four games. We've still got some improving we can do, we can have."
  • Can you blow your conditioning in one five-day break? "I hope not," Chizik said. "You probably could, but I hope not. It's like anything else: These guys have to be different than anybody else out there. They've got to always keep in mind what they have at stake that nobody else has at stake. We've got to hope they understand that. The next four or five days when they go home and they're around all their friends and nobody has the same thing riding on it, they need to remember it."
  • Auburn has added some pace drills at the end of its practices, trying to run a play in under 10 seconds. It's both for conditioning and to prepare for Oregon's fast-paced attack. “It’s really important," defensive coordinator Ted Roof. "You can talk about it all you want but until you do it, you don’t get it. But to have the ability to get your people aligned, formation recognition, because that’s what that tempo does to you. So many times teams just turn to survival mode and just line up be somewhere close to the right spot. All that stuff has to happen quicker. That’s where it puts the stress on you and the only way to do it is to practice it, like most things.”
  • The Tigers have also added some scrimmage time to the most recent set of practices to get the younger players some looks. "We've got a lot of our redshirt guys in there playing," Chizik said. "We probably went 15-20 plays today; probably a little more yesterday. They like it. It's fun for them."
  • Auburn's defense gets a bad rap for where it ranks nationally, but Chizik thinks the group has made strides. "There's times when we didn't play as well as we would have liked," he said. "If you go back and look at the whole thing, from beginning to end, there were a lot of things we accomplished defensively. When it was time to step up and make plays, we had to have plays, they've done it. Whether it was a stop, whether it was an interception, we've been able to do that."
  • A couple of juniors (Cam Newton, Nick Fairley in particular) will have to make a decision about entering the NFL Draft. Chizik said he'll talk with them about it at the appropriate time, but he hasn't done so yet. "We're focused on one goal," he said. "That's everybody on the team, and that is to go out to Arizona and win. All those other things, those discussions, will have a lot of merit at the right time."
  • Gus Malzahn's take on Oregon's defense: "They’re very aggressive. They play a lot of people so they stay fresh. They play extremely hard, they gang tackle. And their scheme really helps them out too. They’re a big pressure team out of the odd front. And really I think their defense compliments their offense. They’re used to playing a lot of plays. They don’t slow down and they get better as the game goes on."
  • Roof watched every Oregon game this year to get some insight to how teams defended the Ducks. But he's not going to overhaul Auburn's defense for the BCS title game. "You can’t reinvent the wheel and do things you haven’t done before," he said. "Because you’ve got to do what you do. But at the same time, things that you pick up, how they do things, how they block certain things, factor into it. You can’t just scrap what you’ve done and what you’ve got so many reps in because we’re all creatures of habit. We’ve got so many reps in what we do to be able to pick and choose from what we’ve done in the past what might be applicable to this offense.”
  • Roof, on the similarities between Auburn and Oregon's offenses. "The big similarities are that they score a lot of points and go up and down the field really fast. But there are some things within the spread that are constant with most spread teams with obviously each team having their own variation of it.”
  • Lots of praise for Oregon RB LaMichael James. "I tell you it’s like he goes through the eye of the needle sometimes with some of his cuts," Roof said. "You’re watching the end zone tape and there’s absolutely no hole there. All of sudden, here comes this guy squirting out of there who goes 80 yards. He’s a guy who stays alive, keeps his feet moving and as he moves laterally, looks for creases. When he sees a crease, he hits it, and people don’t catch him. But I can tell you how durable he is and how physical he is. You can see that he’s really, really competitive on tape. We have a lot of respect for him.”
  • Malzahn was proud of longtime protege and graduate assistant Rhett Lashlee, who agreed to be Samford’s offensive coordinator earlier this week. Then he remembered that Auburn plays Samford next season. “The stress level has already kicked in for me,” Malzahn joked. “He knows all the signals.”
  • The 27-year-old Lashlee has been at Malzahn’s side for years. He played at Shiloh Christian High in Arkansas, where, under Malzahn’s tutelage, he finished as the national record holder for touchdown passes in a prep career with 171. Lashlee walked on at Arkansas and served as a GA to Malzahn in his one year as the Razorbacks’ offensive coordinator in 2006. After a two-year stint as a marketing director for VYPE Magazine in Arkansas, Lashlee re-joined Malzahn as a GA at Auburn prior to last season. “He’s got a great mind, he’s going to be a great coach,” Malzahn said. “His best days are ahead of him. I ask a lot of him. He’s not a normal GA.”
  • Lashlee plays a prominent role in the Tigers’ sideline operation, in charge of the communication. He aids in the game planning and helps serve as a conduit to the quarterbacks. “He can relate to the quarterbacks away from me about what I’m like, how I work,” Malzahn said. Lashlee will stay on staff through the BCS title game. “I don’t want him thinking about that other job either,” Malzahn said. “He will be locked in ready to go.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Any interesting vibes that you are picking up on, Andy? Are they ready? Confident?