Soggy Tigers Have Spirited Practice

Auburn's first full pad practice was delayed for several hours because of heavy rain.

Auburn, Ala.–-Preseason practices in the fall are a time when a player can make a move or come out of his shell. Tuesday could very well have been the day for that to happen to redshirt freshman Tez Doolittle.

Down almost 20 pounds from his spring weight to 285 pounds, Doolittle was moved inside to tackle from defensive end for the afternoon practice that was postponed from the morning because of heavy rains in the Auburn area. Needing help with Tommy Jackson out because of an elbow injury the coaches were looking for someone to get the job done and Doolittle showed signs on Tuesday that he could be just what they are looking for.

"His effort has been excellent," Coach Don Dunn said. "He has come a million miles effort-wise since last spring. It's new to him because he's been on the end. It's a big difference coming from outside to inside. I was real proud of his effort. He just has to work on his technique and that's why we stayed extra today."

Having been rained out in the morning because of over 3 inches of rain in the Auburn area that flooded parts of campus and knocked out computer systems in the area, the Tigers went to work in the afternoon in full pads for the first time this fall. Coach Tommy Tuberville said they were able to get just about everything done they hoped to accomplish and he was pleased with the practice.

"We got a little something done today," Tuberville said. "Thank goodness for artificial turf. Tomorrow we'll do about the same thing. We'll be here (football complex) in the morning for the same type of practice and then in the afternoon we'll be out in full pads on the intramural fields if it's dry enough.

"It was a pretty good day," Tuberville added. "The receivers didn't have a very good day, but on this turf it's hard to get our timing down. At least we were able to practice without getting wet and muddy. I thought the offensive line, we're getting much better along with the defensive line. We've got more numbers and guys are able to work harder in this cooler weather."

The offense and defense have been trading blows in each of the first three days and that was again the case on Tuesday as the offensive line had a solid day overall with King Dunlap, Marcus McNeill and Leon Hart all looking good at left tackle. Guard Ben Grubbs was also solid in the middle as was fellow guard Jarrod Britt.

Offensive linemen Jarrod Britt and Tim Duckworth get into it with freshman defensive tackle Pat Sims

Defensively, in addition to Doolittle, ends Chris Browder and Quentin Groves were singled out by Tuberville for their effort in practice. Moving from linebacker to defensive end, Groves has moved quickly into the rotation and looks as if he's found a very permanent home.

"Quentin Groves is a guy I watched today," Tuberville said. "He's much improved. His quickness and speed is really going to help us. Chris Browder has a lot to learn about the defense, but those guys' physical abilities are going to help us because of their quickness. It's good to see those guys getting better and better.

"He's going to be a heck of a player," Tuberville added on Groves. "He's going to get bigger too. With Bret Eddins leaving and Doug Langenfeld, we're going to have to find some guys to play on that tight end side."

Preparing for Saturday morning's scrimmage this week with two-a-day practices on both Wednesday and Friday, Tuberville said he hoped to have injured offensive players Cooper Wallace and Jake Slaughter back by that time. Senior cornerback Carlos Rogers continues to be sidelined with a sprained knee, but should return to practice early next week.

The cooler temperatures brought on by the rain gave a feisty pep to the practice and that caused the action to get intense at times. It also led to a small scuffle with Britt and Pat Sims getting into it and spilling over into another scuffle between Tim Duckworth and Montavian Collier. Neither lasted but a few seconds and Tuberville said that sometimes that's good to see.

"They swing at each other then laugh at each other when they get back," Tuberville said. "It's not like it looks. It's good to see them compete."

The Tigers return to the practice field at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday for the first day of two-a-day practices. The afternoon session is tentatively scheduled for 4:40 and will feature a 20-play short yardage scrimmage.

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