Tigers Preparing For 4th Preseason Scrimmage

Comments from Auburn football players and Coach Gene Chizik are featured in this practice report.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn football Tigers returned to the practice on Friday night for a two-hour session that was partially a "teaching day" and partially a tune-up for what will be Auburn's fourth scrimmage of the preseason that is scheduled for Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Head coach Gene Chizik said, "I thought we got a good amount accomplished." He noted about half of the practice on Saturday will be dedicated to teaching, the other half will be going full speed 11 on 11 with referees.

"We will do a little bit of scrimmaging in there," he said. "Hopefully, we will show a lot of improvement. The gist of tomorrow's scrimmage is just to get some younger guys in there, some guys we feel like still need those live reps. There is no substitute for doing that.

"We are going to scrimmage until we feel like we have got enough reps to continue so they can get better at their trade," Chizik said. "I don't know how long it will go. We will play it by ear."

Chizik said the scrimmage will be beneficial for coaches to make more informed decisions on young players on whether or not they are ready to play on Saturdays this fall. He said the young players who are definitely going to play also need more scrimmage work to prepare for game situations.

With the Tigers replacing their starting punter, Ryan Shoemaker, and their starting field goal kicker, Wes Byrum, Chizik said their replacements are making progress, but still need to improve. Sophomore Steven Clark is handling the punts and sophomore Cody Parkey is the kicker.

Cody Parkey

"I think our young punter and our young kicker are doing some nice things every day," the coach said. "They certainly have not arrived. They are showing flashes of doing what we need to do in the kicking game. They need to continue to work, but right now we feel pretty comfortable where we are at."

Chizik had praise for true freshman Quan Bray, who is making the move from high school quarterback to college receiver. "I am really proud of Quan," the coach said "He has gotten better and better day by day so it has been really nice to see him improve.

"We expect there to be a lot more improvement as we move forward," Chizik added. "For the transition from one position to the next I don't think we could really ask much more than Quan has been able to do in terms of both learning it and being productive on the field."

Junior linebacker Daren Bates was the young guy in the starting lineup two years ago when he became a starting safety as a true freshman. Now, heading into the 2011 season he is one of the veterans on defense with two years of starting experience, including one as an outside the linebacker, the position he is expected to start at again this year.

"My football IQ has been going up since I got here and I am still working on that like everybody else on the team," Bates said. "I am trying to learn what people are doing at every position on defense so I can help everybody out.

"If you know what everybody is doing, instead of just one position, that will make you a better player," he said. "I feel like I am making progress. I talked to Coach (Ted) Roof and I showed him I am able to call out anything he needs me to do at my position and the others."

Commenting on how the 2011 defense is developing, Bates said, "Everybody is working hard and we are getting better. We are trying to get to the point where we are playing good football--great football.

"The thing that we did last year was we finished," Bates added. "We have to do that again this season. We might not have started out playing well in every game, but we always played hard and finished playing hard."

In other news:

*Barrett Trotter said he has received a "ton" of congratulations since being announced as the starting quarterback on Thursday prior to practice. He said that he understands the disappointment that his backup, Clint Moseley, is feeling. The two are friends and Trotter said he went to Moseley's house on Thursday night to spend time with the redshirt sophomore.

Barrett Trotter does a handoff with tailback Michael Dyer.

*Trotter said that now that he is the starter he feels more responsibility when things don't go as they should on offense. He said that is part of his job as the No. 1 quarterback.

*Junior running back Onterio McCalebb had praise for freshman Tre Mason, who has performed well in the scrimmages while McCalebb and Dyer have mostly been held out of action. McCalebb said he likes Mason's speed and toughness. He said he would prefer to scrimmage more, but understands why the coaches are holding him out so they can keep him healthy.

Blake Burgess

*Blake Burgess is continuing to get practice reps at guard in addition to center. The redshirt sophomore said he feels like he is "definitely" still in the mix to be the starter at center where he is competing with freshman Reese Dismukes. Burgess has played some guard in the past. "Coach (Gus) Malzahn and Coach (Jeff) Grimes thought I was smart enough to learn both positions and they told me from early on, even in my freshman year, I should pay attention to both positions," Burgess said.

Burgess, who was put on scholarship this week, said the first person he called with the news was his mother, but couldn't get her on the phone. The lineman from Vestavia Hills then got his dad, Rick Burgess, on the phone to give him the news. "My dad kept saying he was getting a pay raise," the lineman said.

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