Chizik Says He's Not Surprised By NCAA Report

Gene Chizik comments on his program's good news from the NCAA and preparations for this week's game vs. the Florida Gators.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn coach Gene Chizik had mixed news on the injury front for his Tigers following Wednesday night's practice and gave his views on the news that his football program is in the clear with the NCAA.

"I am glad the NCAA made a statement that they had completed the investigation," said Chizik, who got the word that the NCAA found no wrongdoing on Auburn's part in its recruitment of quarterback Cam Newton.

The NCAA also ruled its staff found no evidence of any truth about charges made on an HBO television show by four former disgruntled players that Auburn had committed violations while they were part of the program.

"As I have said many times, I feel very confident about the way we run this program," Chizik said. "I have said many times we haven't done anything wrong so, quite frankly, I moved on a long time ago."

Cameron Newton is shown with his Heisman Trophy he won last season.

Chizik did say he was pleased that the NCAA made the public statement on the matter, although he claimed the negative publicity has not cost Auburn any recruits. "I appreciate the NCAA coming out and making the statement," he said. "I can't say it enough, again, I feel good about the way we run the program."

The coach said he talked on the phone to Newton on Wednesday. The 2010 Heisman Trophy is in Charlotte where he is the starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers.

"I talked to him a little bit tonight, just haphazardly after practice, but we did not talk about that (NCAA letter) at all," Chizik said. "I just told him I am proud of him. He is going to watch the game (Florida) Saturday and he is excited about it"

Chizik said he isn't sure if Newton will be at the game on Saturday or will be watching on TV. Newton's team plays in Atlanta on Sunday vs. the Falcons.

Chizik said the Newton and HBO controversies have not caused the Tigers to lose recruits. Auburn brought in the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, according to Scout.com, and is off to a good start on the 2012 class.

Two of the assistant coaches, Jay Boulware and Trooper Taylor, said they haven't received any negative feedback from recruits on the controversies so they said it won't change their recruiting approach, which is to focus on Auburn and Auburn's tradition as a football program and university.

In other news:

*Chizik said after practice that junior wide Emory Blake is making progress on his ankle injury. It will be a game time decision whether or not he plays. Taylor said that DeAngelo Benton, despite his struggles last week vs. Arkansas, is running number one at Blake's spot in practice this week while Blake is closely watching the action and staying up to speed with the game plan.

Jaylon Denson

*Taylor said that a pair of true freshman wide receivers, C.J. Uzomah and Jaylon Denson, are improving and should see extended playing time this week.

*LaDarius Owens, who is wearing a protective boot on his foot, is a no-go for Saturday. His spot as a second team defensive end will be filled by Joel Bonomolo.

*Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes said that redshirt freshman Tunde Fariyike is making progress in practice. With senior starting guard Jared Cooper out this week with an injury, Fariyike can help back up center like Cooper did as well as play guard. Another redshirt freshman, Chad Slade, is expected to start in Cooper's spot at left guard.

Grimes noted that Cooper is disappointed he is out after waiting four years to earn a starting spot, but said the redshirt senior is a mature guy and is handling the setback well.

*Another redshirt freshman earned praise after practice on Wednesday night. Boulware said that fullback/H-back Ladarius Phillips is making progress and is doing a much better job as a blocker than he did in the spring.

*Florida's fastest player, and the fastest player in the SEC, is expected to play against the Tigers. Running back Jeff Demps has been slowed by an ankle problem. Florida's most high-profile player, quarterback John Brantley, will be out for a second game with a high ankle sprain.

*Auburn leads its series vs. the Gators 42-38-2 and has won the last two meetings and three of the previous four, but Florida has won eight of the last 11 matchups.

*Kickoff for the Florida game is 6 p.m. CDT and it will be televised on ESPN with Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holley Rowe calling the action.

NCAA CLEARS AUBURN FOOTBALL


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