Young Players Get Work As AU Preps For Mocs

Auburn continued preparations for Saturday's Homecoming game against Chattanooga on Wednesday.

Auburn, Ala.--With the need for defensive backs to step up and play immediately, the Auburn Tigers are working some of the younger players more in practice this week not only in preparation for Saturday's Homecoming game against Chattanooga but also games against Georgia and Alabama to follow. Practicing for two hours in shells, coach Gene Chizik said it was a good day for his team and it has been a good week of work for the younger guys.

"Because we have gone back to the basics of everything and gone back trying to clean up some things from the last month we haven't been good at, we've had a chance to work a lot of the younger guys," Chizik said. "It has been good to be able to, not rest the older guys because they've had to rep too, but get more work with the younger guys. We have been able to do that."

One of the players that the extra work is beneficial for is true freshman cornerback Ryan White. Playing scout team quarterback and working some at defensive back, he was forced into action a few weeks ago when starting cornerback Neiko Thorpe injured his hand and T'Sharvan Bell injured his hamstring. Jumping into the playing rotation for the first time last weekend, White did a solid job according to position coach Phillip Lolley and that's why they decided to go ahead and get him ready to play.

"He's progressing well or he wouldn't be where he's at," Lolley said. "He really started coming on and the question was at the first of the year whether to redshirt him or let's go ahead and put him in the mix. We never know how the outcome will be as far as injuries. You kind of hope you don't go through that but at the same time you expect it.

"Even having the year we've had it was still a very difficult decision. I talked to him and his dad. With the season we've had losing two or three guys, we had to have somebody athletic enough to play the guys in this league. He's the guy."

Ryan White in action against Ole Miss.

Working the younger guys more while getting prepared for Saturday's game, the Tigers got a break with the weather as temperatures hovered in the upper 50s. With football weather on the practice field and being 9-0, Chizik said his team responded with a solid practice on Wednesday.

"When you're used to so many days of the humidity and the heat I think it gives them a little extra pep in their step," Chizik said. "You can kind of tell when the weather cools off because they're bouncing around out there. All that being considered, I thought they were focused and very alert and aware of doing what we need to do in practice to get better."

Auburn continues to handle its business and this week will be one of the biggest challenges for that facing FCS team Chattanooga. While it could be a prime position for a letdown and to not play well, Chizik said having a large group of seniors playing on Homecoming should make for an emotional game on Saturday as they look to win the game and continue the push towards a championship.

Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for noon and can be seen on Pay-Per-View basis only. It will be available in the State of Alabama to cable subscribers and in boht Alabama and Tennessee to small dish owners who subscribe to DirecTV and Dish Network.

"I think it's extremely special," Chizik said. "Not only is this the last Homecoming but this week and next week will be the last time they ever play in Jordan-Hare Stadium. I think it will be emotional for a lot of them. I think it's a very special time they'll always remember. They'll have a lot of family and friends here. I think it will be an emotional time for them."

*Auburn running backs coach Curtis Luper said the plan to ease freshman running back Michael Dyer into the playing rotation this fall has worked out perfectly to this point. Coming off his best game yet with 180 yards against Ole Miss, Luper said he saw Dyer finding his groove in the LSU game and it carried over to last week.

*Luper added that the combination of Dyer and Onterio McCalebb in the backfield along with quarterback Cameron Newton running the football has made it difficult for defenses to figure out a way to stop so far this season. With his ability to get to the corner and make big plays, McCalebb's threat to a defense has been a huge part of the running game Luper said.

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