“It was another really good day of preparation,” said head coach Gene Chizik. “It was a nice, physical practice, which is what we needed. We prepared well, but we still have some time. We have some things we have to get cleaned up, but I think we’re on track.”
The Tigers had some fun before practice, hamming it up for a large group of media that were allowed to watch the first 15 minutes.
Defensive tackle Nick Fairley diverted some attention away from Cam Newton, who, as usual, had most of the cameras trained on him during pre-practice warmups. As Newton did a drill with offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, Fairley ran down the sidelines, only a few feet away from the cameras, arms outstretched as he yelled out 'Wooooooo!'
It worked. It got some of the media to turn their attention to a group of defensive players.
Despite the relaxed pre-practice atmosphere, the Tigers said they got to work once things got underway.
"Definitely a more serious vibe to it," cornerback T'Sharvan Bell said. "When we're off the field, everybody's more locked it. You don't got guys running around the hotel, things like that. You've got to get down to business."
The Tigers practice again Thursday at 11:15 a.m. MT.
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Here are few other notes and quotes from today's practice:
- Everyone expects a shootout. Bell has heard it all. "It has to motivate us," he said. "It's basically saying who's going to score last. That's not the way we're taking it. We're going to take it as it's going to come down to us and we know it's going to come down to us."
- Not only does Newton get a lot of attention from the media, he also gets a lot of carries near the goal line. The quarterback has 20 rushing touchdowns this year. Running back Mike Dyer doesn't mind. "If Cam gets it, Cam gets it," he said. "And he does exactly what we need him to do. It's always been, 'Cam Newton. Cam Newton.' And he's done a pretty good job, so I'm saying Cam Newton too. He does his job and we do our job. We're a family here and we love one another. So if he goes and gets about 26 carries and scores every time, then, hey, we get a ring and I'm happy and we're having fun."
- Wide receiver Emory Blake lived in Phoenix when he father, Jeff, played quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals in 2003. Although he's used to the scenery, his teammates aren't. "I hear a lot of guys talk about the mountains," Blake said. "I heard someone say, 'Are the mountains fake?' Some people haven't seen mountains before. It's different."
- Auburn is headed to the Suns-Lakers game tonight, although most of the players just referred to it as the "Lakers game." A lot of Kobe Bryant fans on the team, including Dyer, who played a little hoops all the way up through high school before giving it up for full-time football. "Basketball's fun but I didn't like it too much because you can't do too much contact," he said. "Every time you touch somebody, they call a foul on you."
- Fairley is fond of tweeting about how good he is at basketball. He had a decent career at Williamson High in Mobile, averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds as a junior. Dyer said he's a better talker than basketball player, though. "We played the older guys when I first got here, we did the freshman vs. the juniors and seniors and Nick has no skills in basketball," Dyer said with a laugh. "None. He's probably going to be mad I told you that, but his secret is he cannot play basketball. At all."