Linebacker Move Highlights Sunday Workout

Auburn, Ala.--Down to just two experienced linebackers for much of Saturday night's game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs because of an ankle injury to <b>Tavarreus Pounds</b>, the Auburn coaching staff made a move to shore that position up Sunday.

Former tailback and fullback Derrick Graves made the move on Sunday as the coaching staff looks for ways to add some depth behind starters Mark Brown and Dontarrious Thomas.

That move highlighted an otherwise uneventful practice day for the Tigers as the team did some light conditioning drills after watching videos of the Florida Gators for much of the afternoon. For players like Graves that saw little or no action in Saturday's game, the day was a day of learning as the coaches worked on techniques and fundamentals with the second and third-teamers.

"It went pretty good," Graves said of his first day at linebacker. "I've got a lot to learn. It started off pretty good today, I'm learning. I like it. I'll be on the field, hopefully, so whatever I can do to help the team out, I'm there."

On the injury front the defense seems to be the worse for the wear as Pounds and cornerback Travaris Robinson both appear to be questionable for this coming Saturday's game. Robinson suffered a sprained MCL early Saturday night and is the most doubtful of the Tigers to play this weekend. Other injured Tigers that should be able to play this week are defensive tackles Demarco McNeil and Spencer Johnson and tight ends Lorenzo Diamond and Robert Johnson. McNeil has been bothered by an infection in his leg that contributed to him running a fever that severely limited his playing time vs. Mississippi State.

Spencer Johnson has been bothered by a bruised sternum since the Vanderbilt game but practiced Sunday. The same is true for Diamond who banged his shoulder against the Bulldogs but returned to action. Robert Johnson did some light running on Sunday and looks to be close to returning to practice.

Other than Diamond and Johnson, offensively the Tigers appear to be in good shape physically after a rough and tough victory over the Bulldogs. Following a dismal performance last season in Starkville where they failed to get even one first down in the entire first half of football, the Tigers came out Saturday determined to be the more physical team. They succeeded. Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said it all started up front with the running game.

"That was as well as an offensive line has played in a long time," he said. "Thank goodness for our running game because obviously our passing game was pretty much nonexistent. We hit a couple of big ones but there were a lot of missed opportunities in the passing game with the man-to-man coverage. I thought the five offensive linemen, the tight ends and the running backs just did a super job."

The job goes from tough to tougher this week for the Tiger offense as the experienced Florida Gators come to Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday night for a battle of Western and Eastern Division leaders in the SEC. While much of the talk will be on the Fun-N-Gun offense of head coach Steve Spurrier, Mazzone said that the defense of John Hoke is nothing to be taken lightly.

"Their offense has just been unbelievable but the thing is their defense is where I see they've really improved," he said. "From about the middle of last year, they've really started turning it on on defense. They've gotten better and better. They're a pretty base defense but they're real experienced. They've obviously got some good players over there but they get that ball back a lot for that offense."

The Tigers return to practice Tuesday after taking their normal off-day on Monday. Kickoff for Saturday's game is set for 6:45 p.m. and can be seen nationally on ESPN.


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