Offense Gets A Long Look In Wednesday Practice

Auburn's offense worked on Georgia Tech with a few new additions making their presence felt on that side of the ball.

Auburn, Ala.--One of the most important dates for the Auburn Tigers this season came on Monday when they returned to practice following Saturday's 23-0 loss to the USC Trojans. Seeing how they responded would go a long way towards answering the bell in future games.

Junior wide receiver Silas Daniels said he thought Monday's practice was about as good as you could expect after the weekend of misery.

"It was pretty good," Daniels said. "We had a bad loss and just wanted to get back out there and work on things that we made mistakes on in the game. We just need to get better for this game coming up.

"It's all about trying to get back on track," Daniels added. "We had a bad loss and we just don't want to stay down. The season is not going to end on one game. We just have to step up and play and try to come out with a win."

Offensively, the plan is just to get better without panicking. That means working on all aspects of the offense--blocking, passing, running and receiving. While the lack of the use of the running game has been a major topic among Auburn faithful, Daniels said this team is going to have to prove they can throw the ball before the season is done.

"We're going to have to work on it because we need that balance," Daniels said. "We have to make them stop keying on the run because they have like eight or nine in the box. If we have the pass to go to that it will help keep them honest."

Receiver Silas Daniels is hoping to get the offense rolling against Georgia Tech.

Saying he should be back to full strength by the end of the week, Daniels is excited about the opportunity to get the offense untracked in Saturday's game. Working at receiver as well as doing some kick returns in Wednesday's practice, he said that it won't be easy this weekend against a stubborn Yellow Jacket team.

"They have a good defense," Daniels said. "They play hard. We just have to go out there and stick to our game plan. We just have to play."

Another move from defense to offense highlighted Wednesday's practice as true freshman Josh Thompson got a look at guard to help alleviate some of the depth concerns on the offensive line. A player who played offensive line in high school, Thompson has the mental and physical ability to grab some early playing time this season. A possible redshirt at noseguard behind Demarco McNeil, Tommy Jackson and Wayne Dickens, Coach Tommy Tuberville said he's now in a position to possibly play this year.

"This is temporary," Tuberville said. "This is for the season, probably not through the spring. We needed some help. He's played the offensive line before and we're a couple of injuries away from really struggling over there. We want to get some guys over there that feel like they know what to do. He'll travel and probably work himself into a backup role."

Thompson joins former tackle Ben Grubbs on the offensive side of the ball. Fourth on the depth chart as well at tackle, the 280-plus Grubbs has shown some skills since being moved to tight end earlier in the week. Tuberville said he believes the redshirt freshman will help the Tigers sooner than anyone thought possible.

"He's looked real good," Tuberville said. "He caught a couple of balls today in situational period. He runs good routes and has good hands. He can really come off the ball. He's athletic. When you can play on the defensive side of the ball, obviously you are pretty athletic. He's got strong legs and has really been impressive for the first week."

With Daniels working back in full time at practice and offensive tackle Marcus McNeill back on the field, the offense worked on execution once again as it continues to install the game plan for Saturday. The offensive line again got extensive work in the pass protection department after failing to give quarterback Jason Campbell much time last Saturday night.

Defensively, the line worked on containment with quick quarterback Reggie Ball the opposition Saturday afternoon. Staying at home for the defensive ends and linebackers could be the difference between a short gain and a touchdown with a player of his ability running the show. Tuberville said this week has been good for his team as they get ready for their first road trip of the 2003 season.

Tailback Carnell Williams runs a punt back in Wednesday's practice.

"It's been a good week of practice," Tuberville said. "It has been hot, but guys have pushed through it. The first two days were very physical. Today was more of a mental day. We have to get our fluids back. We had four of five guys dehydrate on the field yesterday and we can't have that Saturday."

"We worked on a lot of situations today," Tuberville added. "Yesterday was more of a technique day, today was more situations. We made sure we've put in the game plan from top to bottom. We worked hard on the kicking game. There are some things in the kicking game that we needed to look at."

The Tigers will practice Thursday in Auburn and have a short walk-through on campus before leaving for Atlanta Friday afternoon. Kickoff for the game on Saturday is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. central time and can be seen on ABC.


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