Tigers Work On Adding Depth Up Front

Position moves highlighted Monday's practice as the Tigers prepare for Georgia Tech.

Auburn, Ala.--Looking for help on the offensive line heading into this week's clash with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, the 17th-ranked Auburn Tigers made a couple of position moves that should strengthen the depth on the offensive front. Switching from offensive tackle to tight end and back appears to be over for sophomore Steven Ross, who was working at tackle on Monday and likely will be there for the remainder of the season.

"Last week was tough," Coach Hugh Nall said. "We lost Mark Pera for a few days and then we found out Bourgeois (Taylor Bourgeois) was gone. The next thing you know I was kind of in a mess. I have to get a two-deep. Going into that game the other night I was holding my breath if anybody went down and it magnified once that happened.

"We moved Steven back to try to give us a good two-deep," he added. "It gives us somebody that can work two-deep and stay in one place. Jonathan Palmer had to play four positions last week. That's just too much to ask for anybody, but that's the way it was. We really didn't have any other choice."

Along with Ross on the second unit will be Jeremy Ingle at center and Palmer along with true freshman Jarrod Britt at guards. While freshman tackle King Dunlap isn't physically or mentally ready to take over at the strong tackle position, one player that appears ready to make a run for playing time is junior Thomas Anderson.

"He looks good," Nall said of Anderson. "He did some good things today. He just has to keep building his wind up. He still gets winded real easy. You can tell he hasn't done much in a while. I thought fundamentally he did some good things. He's worked on some things that I asked him to work on this summer. He did a good job."

Ben Grubbs works on fitting his hands in blocking assignments with Coach Patrick Moore. Sophomore Cooper Wallace looks on. With Ross out of the tight end rotation, the need for a physical blocker with athleticism arose and that is apparently going to be redshirt freshman Ben Grubbs. A promising defensive tackle, Grubbs is currently fourth on the depth chart behind Spencer Johnson, Dexter Murphy and Tim Duckworth. With Wayne Dickens also playing the position, it makes sense to give Grubbs a look on the offensive side of the ball.

A physical player that played both tight end and linebacker at Elmore County High, Grubbs has the tools to be a dominant blocker on the end because of his excellent feet and strength. Not sure what to think of the move, Grubbs said he's just happy to be able to help the team.

"Coach Dunn (Don Dunn) called me in his office today and asked me to play tight end because I played it in high school and had experience there," Grubbs said. "He told me to think about it. I did and I said yes. It won't hurt me any. Anything to help the team out. I had fun. It was new. Of course it was different, but I enjoyed learning a new position.

"He (Coach Patrick Moore) is saying that if I learn the plays and I do pretty good he will throw me in there. That's what I'm working for and I'm giving 100 percent. I might get a shot at it this week. I'm just waiting my turn, but I'm giving it all I've got."

Banged up from the unusual amount of punishment he took in Saturday's game, quarterback Jason Campbell took part in just over half of Auburn's two-hour practice on Monday before going inside for treatment. Working on correcting mental mistakes which Campbell said plagued his unit the entire game as well as going through inside drills and two-minute situations, Coach Tommy Tuberville said the day was a good one for his team.

"It was good and hot," Tuberville said. "It needed to be. The next one is at 2:30 and the next one is at 11:30. We're going to need to be in shape and have a lot of players. We're a little banged up from last week's game. We had to sit some guys out today to try to get healed up and get some soreness out. We did a lot against ourselves today. We started putting in a lot of things we're going to see against Georgia Tech.

Some good news for the Tigers is that sophomore Marcus McNeill was on the practice field Monday and appeared to be moving fine. Working with the trainers to get rid of some of the soreness in his bruised shin, the big lineman looked ready to get back into action. Although it was obvious the leg was bothering him some and wrapped for protection, McNeill should have no problems being ready for his first trip back to Georgia for a football game.

The Tigers will continue to prepare for the Yellow Jackets with practices on Tuesday-Thursday. They will depart for Atlanta on Friday afternoon following a short walk-through on the Auburn campus. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 2:30 central time and can be seen on ABC.


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