Both players accepted invites Thursday to play in the senior showcase, which takes place at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 29.
“I’m really, really proud of those guys,” Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said. “Very deserving of that honor. I think again when you have a good team and you’re doing well, that comes with the territory. Those two guys are certainly very well deserving of that selection.”
Ziemba was a consensus All-American who was won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the SEC’s top offensive lineman.
“I think anytime you’re recognized as an All-SEC player, that says something about you,” offensive line coach Jeff Grimes said. “But when you go to that next level and people are willing to say you’re one of those best players at your position, I think that says a lot.”
Bynes was a second-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press after leading the Tigers with 71 tackles.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to showcase what I can do alongside some of the other top players in the nation,” Bynes said. “Getting a chance to work out in front of NFL scouts will be a great chance for me to show my skills, and it’s also an opportunity to have a fun time.”
Follow the blog on Twitter and Facebook.
Here are some other notes and quotes from Thursday night's interviews with assistants:
- Good practice Thursday, Chizik said. Auburn went full pads, practicing out in the rain. "I thought the tempo practice was really good and I think we got a lot accomplished," he said.
- Chizik had no news on the academic front Thursday. “I’m going to stay on the same course,” he said. “If there’s a change of any sort, regarding our personnel, I’ll let you know.”
- Auburn altered its schedule over the next few days. After this afternoon’s practice, the Tigers will do a walkthrough on New Year’s Day. But they added a practice on Jan. 2, which was previously an off day. Auburn flies out to Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 3 and resumes practice the following day.
- Wide receiver Darvin Adams will handle Auburn’s punt return duties in the BCS title game against Oregon, wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor said. Adams handled the duties in the SEC title game after Quindarius Carr, who had the job all year, fumbled a punt against Alabama the previous week. Adams had one return for 10 yards against South Carolina. He has two this season for 21 yards. “The biggest deal is Darvin does a good job picking the ball up off the guy’s foot,” Taylor said. “It’s kind of like a baseball. You never want to catch that ball going backwards. You want to have your momentum going forward. His decision-making with the football — I think because of so much time on offense — he makes good decisions with the ball.”
- Carr will be the backup, followed by Anthony Morgan and Chris Davis. “If we have to get past Chris Davis, we’re just going to let it roll,” Taylor said.
- Running backs coach Curtis Luper and Taylor have an odd superstition before every game. Taylor parades around in Luper’s pants, something he’s done since the opener. “I was looking for my pants and he had them on,” Luper said. “I said, ‘Troop, look, give me my pants.’ The next week, Coach (Jay) Boulware said, ‘Troop, you’ve to put Loop’s pants on again.’ I reluctantly gave him my pants. That’s been for 13 consecutive (weeks). It’ll be 14 on Jan. 10. I’ve got to give my pants to Troop. He parades around in them and then I put them on. 14-0 is the goal.”
- I'm sure most of you saw the terrible celebration call against Kansas State at the end of its loss to Syracuse today. Chizik didn't, but he talked about celebration penalties in general. "We’ll actually pull out clips from different games," he said. "We constantly try to address those things. That’s all you can do. Make them very aware of it. They know how we feel about that. We try to address it every opportunity we get.” (Apparently Ben Tate and Walt McFadden didn't get that memo before last year's Outback Bowl.)
- Chizik didn't talk specifically about the Gus Malzahn-Maryland talk but said he didn't find it surprising other teams would be interested in Auburn's coaches. "As I’ve said many times, I’ve got a staff of great coaches and they’re all good I their own right at different things," he said. "They’re all going to be guys who are going to be desirable. Certainly when you’ve been successful and you’ve had a year like we’ve had now, a lot of our guys are going to get attention and rightly so. It’s flattering when you’re in those shoes, but the thing I’m most proud of about our staff is they’re very focused on one thing right now – that’s to win one more game. That’s kind of where we’re at.”
- And while we're kind of on that subject, the Washington Post reported today that Mike Leach's interview with the Maryland brass went well.
- Auburn is much bigger on the offensive line that Oregon is on the defensive line. The Tigers' coaches made it sound like not much of a big deal. Chizik called that advantage "overrated."
- Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes agreed. "If a lot has been made about that, they’re concentrating on the wrong things," he said. "Often (size is) one of the things that’s overestimated, because there are a lot of times where a defensive lineman that’s 270 pounds is a lot better player than a guy who’s 310 pounds. They play a lot bigger than they are. A guy who’s 270, quick, strong, explosive and plays hard, in a lot of ways, is better than a guy that’s 300 and can’t play as hard as long, or doesn’t have the quickness or lateral movement, that sort of thing. In no way whatsoever do I see that as a sort of deficiency in their defense."
- Grimes said he's seen leaps and bounds in progress from RT Brandon Mosley, who replaced an injured A.J. Greene early in the season. He remembers watching game tape of the first South Carolina game before the SEC championship game. "We were both going, golly, I can't believe this was the same season, because you look like a totally different player now than you did at that point," Grimes said. "But I'm really, really pleased with him and really glad I've got another year with him."
- Grimes didn't have anything definitive on Greene's return this spring, although he's been pleased with the progress. "He can’t do a lot of stuff with his lower body, but I’ve seen guys who have had a particular injury where it’s upper body or lower body really increase their strength levels in other areas," Grimes said. "You can really see that on him now. He lost some weight initially, with not being able to do a whole lot, and he gained that weight back and is starting to look now like he did at the beginning of the season, after having a really good summer. I’m really pleased with what I’ve seen from him and the time he’s spent in the weight room over the past three months.”
- The end is drawing near for Grimes' time with his four seniors. "It'll definitely hit me when that game is over," he said. "That's one of the things about coaching that is tough is you really do build a relationship with these kids and you hate to see them move on, but at the same time that relationship doesn't necessarily end."
- You can count the coaches as being excited to play in this game. "Do the math," Luper said. "This is my 15th year in coaching. I'd do it for 30 to do it again."
- Grimes hears about it from everyone he talks to. "I've had people ask me before: 'Have you ever coached in the national championship game before?'" he said. "Heck, I haven't even coached in a BCS game before. Now a whole lot of years before, I was coaching at a Division III school just glad to be playing every Saturday. I'm just thrilled to have the opportunity and I think we recognize how big a deal it is once we get out there probably."
- Has it sunk in? "It hasn't really sunk in yet that we're literally playing for the national championship," Luper said. "We're trying to win the 14th game, trying to beat Oregon. All that other stuff will sink in a little bit later."
- Trooper agreed. "It really hasn’t sunk in because Coach Chizik has been so detailed with the practices working with the younger kids," he said. "It almost feels like a spring practice because we’re scrimmaging those guys and trying to help those young guys to get ready – even some of the backups who may have to play role in this game. It’s been more like a spring practice…it’s not like we’re overlooking them but we’re trying to fix some fundamental things with the young guys."
- Three young'ns who have stood out to Trooper: Davis, WR Antonio Goodwin and HB Shaun Kitchens. Grimes said OL Chad Slade is a little bit further ahead than his freshman counterparts on the line because he's worked as an emergency backup with the regular offense instead of on the scout team.
- WR Travante Stallworth, who has been trying to work back from an ACL tear last year, got a boost recently when his dad just returned from his military service overseas. "You can tell the difference in Travante," Taylor said. "That was big for him. Watching him out there, he’s such a smart kid. Now, we’ve just got his confidence back, and that will come with more touches."
- Trooper's take on Oregon's secondary: "Speed. Those guys can run and they’re not afraid to play man coverage, and they’ve done it against some really good receivers." He was also impressed by the number of passes the Ducks tip into the air. " I bet if you watch five minutes of tape you’ll six or seven tipped balls," he said.
- Doesn't sound like Auburn coaches will be doing much recruiting while they're out in Arizona. It's strictly a title game focus.
- Trooper ragged on Chizik's leather jacket choice during his ESPN rounds the other day (he joked that it was a Members Only jacket, even though it wasn't), but he said the exposure for the program is invaluable. "When you get that type of coverage, it helps in recruiting because it’s reaches all across the United States," he said. "That's not just regional; it’s all over the place."