Chizik Looking for Physical Spring

The Tigers hit the football practice field on Saturday and plan to strap on the pads next week.

Auburn, Ala.--Gene Chizik said he is "proud" of his football team after two days of practice in shorts for its intensity and focus.

On Monday the pads will go on and the Auburn head coach is looking for the intensity to go up as the Tigers move into high gear for what the head coach plans to be a very physical spring.

His team worked out for 2 1/2 hours on Saturday installing the offense and defense being put in by Auburn's new coordinators.

"We always plan on having very physical practices, and always have," Chizik said. "How long you can go, in terms of physicality and doing it every day (depends on the team's health).

"That has got to become a way of life for us, but in the same breath we have to become very conscientious of depth and generally that starts on the O and D lines," Chizik said. "Our plan is for this to be a very physical spring practice. Our plan is to start that Monday and then moving forward we will gauge that based on the health of our team."

Chizik said that no matter what happens in the spring, it is the time of year the Tigers need to do a lot of hitting. "The physicality part of the game is something that we cannot concede," he said.

The Tigers took their first practice injury hit of the spring on Saturday when defensive tackle Gabe Wright was hurt. He suffered a foot injury and is expected to be out of action the rest of spring.

Wright, who is from Columbus, Ga., was a major contributor as a part-time starter his freshman season.

Emory Blake makes a catch in Saturday's practice in front of Jonathan Rose.

One of the team's most experienced players, defensive end Nosa Eguae, is rehabbing his left shoulder following postseason surgery. The returning starter is having to spend spring drills as mainly an observer, something that he isn't happy about doing.

"You have got to compete," he said. "I can wait until two-a-days to go out there and show this coaching staff what I can do.

"For me it is going to be a little learning curve, but I am picking up on the defense just watching from the sideline doing those kind of things, just getting mental reps," he said. "As far as competing, I am kind of missing out and it is hurting."

Talking about his rehab, Eguae said, "I am getting better every single day. I am doing what our trainers are asking me to do. I am going out there and listening to the doctors and doing the most I can do, but not doing too much. I am just taking it day by day.

After having time to observe the new boss of the defense, Brian VanGorder, Eguae said, "He is a guy that expects a lot from everybody--it's not just the players, the coaches, everybody. Everybody that is going out there it is all about Auburn, it's all about Auburn defense, it's all about being the number one defense in the nation. That is what he says and he means it, too. We are just going to go out there and do whatever it takes to get there."

Eguae, who will be a redshirt junior this fall, said he likes VanGorder's energy. "He is a guy is so amped up, so fired up about football you just feed off it."

Brian VanGorder makes a point at Saturday's practice.

In other news and notes:

*As a group Chizik said he likes the way the defensive front looks physically after going through winter workouts with Coach Kevin Yoxall and his strength and conditioning staff. "I think their bodies are changing," the head coach said. "Now they have to grow into that same mold when it comes to playing football."

Running back Corey Grant (20) runs a drill as he makes contact with walk-on Adam Dyas.

*Chizik and Fellowship of Christian Athletes representative Chette Williams took a group of seven Auburn players to Africa over spring break for a mission trip, which Chizik said was an "outstanding" experience. Williams and Chizik also took their wives on the trip. Players making the trip to Liberia included Clint Moseley, Daren Bates, Emory Blake, John Sullen, Dee Ford, Kenneth Carter and T'Sharvan Bell. Chizik said the trip, that was set up in conjuction with a group called Samritans First, was "an eye-opener" for the players.

*The Tigers will return to the field on Monday for practice number three of 15 spring sessions.

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