Auburn Line Coaches Looking for Tough Guys

News, notes, quotes and photos from Auburn's fifth preseason football practice are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers put on the full pads for the first time this preseason on Monday evening and the session received mixed reviews from Coach Gene Chizik and several of his assistant coaches.

"For our first day of full pads I thought we did some nice things," the head coach said. "I thought the kids were trying to be physical. They were trying to come off the football and play physical.

"What I don't think we did is focus on the little things that are going make a difference--alignments, techniques. We got lost in there somewhere when the full pads went on, which sometimes is natural. We have got to get focused and locked back in on job responsibilities."

Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes said the switch from shells (shoulder pads and shorts) to full pads "is not a big deal for us" because the offensive linemen play the same way in shells as they do with their leg pads on.

With four starters to replace on the line, Grimes has challenged the returnees and new players to give the team their best shots.

"Everybody on our line has to earn their job this year," Grimes said. "We have been in a position where we are working a number of guys at different positions. It doesn't do anything to us now."

Grimes worked without A.J. Greene, a senior who is a candidate to be the starter at left tackle. Greene missed the practice with an injury, but Grimes said he doesn't expect the senior to be out a long time.

The offensive line coach continues to emphasize the importance of being physical for his rebuilding offensive line, especially to the younger players. "It is important to me because that is what I want our identity to be up front, but I?think it is probably hard for them to recognize how physical it is going to be week in and week out," the coach said. "I think what we have to do as coaches is give them the best picture we can every day in practice."

Defensive line coach Mike Pelton said after Monday night's practice that he is trying to make sure his guys are playing physical football, too. Grimes said the defensive line has caught his eye.

"I will say I really think the defensive line is doing a great job of working against us and competing," Grimes said. "Coach Pelton is doing a great job of getting those guys to fight and play hard. We are having a lot of fun working against each other."

Grimes said with five preseason practices in the book he is seeing progress. "They are at that point right now that they figured out just being really big and talented doesn't get it done," he said. "We have got their attention now. Hopefully, they will learn what it is going to take."

Grimes said it is essential his guys learn to be tough to compete in the SEC.

"What I try to instill within them if you are a tough guy you are tough guy all of the time--not just on Saturdays, not just in the big games, not just when coach is watching, not just when we are scrimmaging," he said. "I?try to impress on them that every single day you have to go out and go to war."

With Greene out, redshirt freshman Chad Slade is working with the first team at right tackle and senior Brandon Mosley has moved from right tackle to the left side.

Grimes said he is seeing progress from Slade, who he said has worked hard in the offseason. "We will find out a lot more in the next two weeks," the coach said. "We will see where they are after about 10 more days of this beating on each other with some two-a-days practices mixed in there so we will see who wants to do this, but he (Slade) has made a lot of progress."

Pelton agreed with Grimes about the importance of toughening his young guys at defensive tackle and defensive end. "It is probably the first time some of these guys have got to fight like they do," Pelton said.

"It is a learning process for them," the first-year Auburn coach added. "It is probably one of the toughest positions to come in and play beside quarterback as a freshman just because there is so much contact and you are getting hit every play."

The Tigers are shown practicing in their indoor facility on Monday evening.

In other news and notes:

A new BCS Championship rug was installed in the main entrance to the football complex on Monday.

*Scouts from the Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, San Francisco '49ers, San Diego Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans watched the practice.

*The Tigers are scheduled to have the first of their three two-a-days on Tuesday. The first practice is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. with the second set for 5:40 p.m. Two practices are also scheduled for Friday and the following Tuesday.

*Chizik said he is seeing a lot of positives in practice with older players trying to lead and younger players trying to be physical. However, on Monday night he wasn't ready to single out any players.

*Chizik declined to discuss how serious the injuries are to tackles Greene and Aubrey Phillips or say when the players would be back at practice. "Both of them are beat up," he said. "Both are still under evaluation."

*Commenting on another offensive lineman, freshman center Reese Dismukes, Chizik said the early high school graduate from Spanish Fort is one of the smartest players on the football team. "He is real well-school and well-versed in football identifying things," Chizik said. "That is a huge part.

"He will continue to get better and better. His part is going to be the physicality of the game playing against those 300-plus pounders who are going to be playing over top of him."

*Defensive line coach Pelton said that he is seeing improvement from freshman defensive tackle Jabrian Niles from Davidson High in Mobile. The coach said that LaDarius Owens, who is making the move from linebacker to end, is very raw, but added, "He has shown flashes this (defensive end) is where he needs to be."

Trovon Reed, a redshirt freshman from Thibodaux, La., is full speed again after missing the 2010 season with a knee problem.

*Freshman Tre Mason won praise from his position coach Curtis Luper on Monday night. Luper predicted the 5-10, 190-pound running back will surprise fans with how good he is and said that Mason will have a role with the Tigers this fall.

*Luper also said that backup running back Anthony Gulley Morgan is continuing to make progress and should be a good backup for Onterio McCalebb.

*Coach Phillip Lolley said he likes what he is seeing from all of the young cornerbacks and safeties. The coach said the young corners are ahead of where the freshman corners were last season. He also notes there is more depth this year.

*Lolley said that early high school graduate Jonathan Rose continues to improve and noted the freshman made an interception Monday night.

*Another freshman who has caught Lolley's eye is safety Erique Florence from Valley. The coach noted that two of the true freshmen are getting a look as a nickel back--Jeremaine Whitehead and Robensen Therezie. Another cornerback, T'Sharvan Bell, is also at the position.

*Lolley said that sophomore Ryan Smith from Cordova is coming around and making progress at safety.

*The first preseason scrimmage is scheduled for Wednesday at 10:45 a.m.

*Fan Day is set for 2-4 p.m. on Sunday at the Auburn Arena. There is no admission charge to the event which gives fans a chance to get autographs and photos of players and Chizik.

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