Auburn, Ala.--After taking their first break since resuming bowl practice, the Auburn Tigers were back on the field for a full pads session on Monday that a variety of players said featured plenty of energy as their team prepares for a Jan. 2nd Sugar Bowl date vs. the Oklahoma Sooners.
“I think our practices have been really good,” said sophomore running back Kerryon Johnson. “I think we have had really productive days with a lot of energy. I?think the break that we had after our last game got us all re-energized and re-focused. We have executed at a high level.”
The Tigers are scheduled to practice for three more days on campus before heading home for Christmas prior to re-assembling in New Orleans two nights after Christmas.
Senior cornerback Josh Holsey noted that the practices have been “good, real good” in the past week. “Everybody is excited to be out there running around,” he said. “Coaches are fired up, players are fired.
“It is a great opportunity for us,” Holsey said. “We have been flying around, running to the ball and getting ready for this great game we have got coming up.
“Each practice is getting better and better,” Holsey added. “We have just got to keep it up.”
Another defensive player, redshirt sophomore tackle Dontavius Russell, said he has seen good energy at the practices, too. “It has been going real well,” he said. “We have got a lot of days in before the break.”
Thomas pointed out that he doesn’t think conditioning will be a problem, especially for the defensive line group, which has been doing extra running drills after practice under the personal direction of their position coach, Rodney Garner, to prepare for a high-powered Oklahoma offense that likes to play with a quick tempo.
Russell noted that the Sooners, who are averaging just under 45 points per game, “obviously have a good offense.” He said the fact that two Oklahoma offensive players, wide receiver Dede Westbrook and quarterback Baker Mayfield, were Heisman Trophy finalists says a lot about the challenge awaiting the Tigers.
Commenting on Auburn’s defense during the 2016 season, Russell said, “I feel like we played well over a good stretch of the season. We had some shortcomings, but I?feel like we performed very well throughout the season.”
Holsey noted that the Heisman finalists will be a challenge for Auburn’s secondary. “They have got the best receiver,” Holsey said of Westbrook. “He is pretty explosive. He blows the top off the coverage a lot. We have our hands full.
“That will be a great matchup for us as a secondary,” the cornerback added. “He is one of those guys you make sure you know where is at on the field at all times because he is their go-to guy.”