Tigers Getting The Best Players On The Field

Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik talks about Junior Rosegreen's role this week in the defense and what the Tigers have to do in order to improve heading down the stretch run of the schedule.

Auburn, Ala.--Heading into Saturday's game against Louisiana-Monroe (1-7) the Auburn Tigers have plenty of things to work on following last weekend's 31-7 loss to LSU in Baton Rouge.

They began the process of trying to improve and correcting mistakes with a long Tuesday practice under the lights at the football complex. Spending time on the punt return and coverage teams to begin the day, the team focused on fundamentals and techniques on both offense and defense for the majority of the practice than ran for more than two hours.

Defensively, that meant working on tackling and assignments, something that was not a pleasant video review for Tiger players and coaches on Sunday when they looked at what happened vs. LSU. Missing tackles at the line of scrimmage led to big gains on the ground and players in the wrong place on defense also led to big plays in both the running game and passing game. Coach Gene Chizik said that was a big focus on Tuesday.

"We had a really, really good practice, I thought," Chizik said. "I thought they were all very focused and very in tuned to get back on track and try to get better and try to get where we're fighting to go. It was just a good day. I thought from the beginning with the meetings and all through practice was a good day."

One of the moves the defense will make this week is to put Junior Rosegreen back at safety and move Kevin Hobbs into the starting lineup at cornerback. That is something that both Chizik and Coach Tommy Tuberville say makes the Tigers a stronger team. Chizik said that they have confidence the younger guys outside can get the job done this week and in the future.

"Right now it's still a day-by-day thing, but we're working him at safety this week," Chizik said. "It's kind of a back-and-forth thing with him, but we'll see how it ends up. He's played so much corner so we're going to move him to safety and see how that goes this week.

"Kevin Hobbs played about 20 plays Saturday and he's really playing well," Chizik added. "He's always around the ball. He's done some good things and I think he's entered into the equation now. He's given us what we feel like is a little bit more flexibility at safety. Obviously, the month of November is the most important month of the year for us and we're going to put our four best players on the field in the secondary. Right now it could be Kevin Hobbs and Carlos Rogers at corner and Junior and one of the other safeties. We have to figure out who our best four are."

If that's the case then Chizik will also have Lamel Ages and Montae Pitts backing up the two cornerback positions. While both are capable players, Chizik said he would like to get them more work in this weekend's game to prepare them in case they are needed in the tough battles down the road.

"I hope they can," Chizik said. "We're certainly not looking past these guys at all, but you're hoping you can get them in the games and let them compete some on this level. You're hoping you can get Lamel and Montae some work in there."

Coach Tommy Tuberville watches intently as Tre Smith waits for a punt from Kody Bliss during practice. The coaches sent waves of 10 players at Smith for the entire kicking period to see if he handled the pressure and traffic well.

Senior defensive tackle Demarco McNeil said that he was embarrassed by the way the defense played in Saturday's loss, but that they came back today and worked on correcting the many mistakes they made. He said while the team had a good day this one was particularly good for him.

"This was probably one of the best practices personally I have had in a while," McNeil said. "There's nothing wrong with getting two days off and then practicing. My legs felt pretty good. I was just happy to be back on the field and get those memories from Saturday out."

On the injury front the Tigers appear to be very healthy heading into Saturday's game with just defensive end Doug Langenfeld expected to miss the contest because of an ankle sprain. He ran on both Sunday and Tuesday and appears to be on track to return for next week's clash with the Ole Miss Rebels.

Kickoff for Saturday's homecoming game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and there is no television for the only time this season.

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