Special Teams Get A Workout In Monday Practice

Auburn had the last of its two-a-day practices on Monday and followed it with the annual watermelon feast to close practice.

Auburn, Ala.–-The last day of two-a-days was a solid one for the Auburn Tigers as they closed out Monday with a two-hour practice in shorts and shoulder pads. Although some time was spent in offensive and defensive groups, the Tigers worked on all phases of the kicking game and the passing attack.

Coach Tommy Tuberville said that has been the plan all along and it gave the coaches a chance to get some special teams work for the offensive players not used to tackling and rushing.

"We try not to do very much in the morning on the kicking game, it's mostly all offense and defense," Tuberville said. "Today we spent about 45 or 50 minutes on the kicking and the kickers did well.

"We are starting to work on kickoff coverage," Tuberville added. "I know when we're doing that it means we're getting closer to game time. You don't work on that a whole lot until you get closer to the game. The kicking game is coming around, we just have to find the right guys. There are going to be a lot of true freshmen on the kicking teams this year."

Extra time in special teams meant another chance for kickers John Vaughn and Philip Yost to continue their battle for the starting kicker job. Starting the day, Vaughn had made 13 consecutive kicks dating back to last Saturday's scrimmage and he picked up where he left off by drilling his first four kicks from 24, 31, 37 and 44 yards. Yost was just behind, good from all distances but 31. The day evened out though as Vaughn missed from 46 yards out just right of the upright while Yost drilled it through with ease to finish the practice.

Eric Brock fights through a block to get to the ball carrier during kickoff coverage.

"He's obviously right now doing better than Philip," Tuberville said. "He's more consistent, and that's what we're looking for. It's still up for grabs. It could go the other way in the next scrimmage. I don't get excited about it until a week before the game. They're like golfers and guys making the long putts. I'm just looking for the guy who's most consistent right now and right now John is it. If we had to play today it would be John, but we don't play today."

Tuberville reported that David Irons went through his surgery fine on Monday and will begin rehab as soon as possible to be ready to go in the spring. Irons had ACL surgery in Birmingham with Dr. Larry Lemak performing the operation.

With several players banged up in the morning practice and over the weekend, a few positions resembled a m*a*s*h unit as Coach Terry Price has just four healthy bodies to work with at defensive end because of bumps and bruises. By the end of practice just Quentin Groves, Neil Brown, Doug Langenfeld and Christopher Browder were on the field for Price.

Offensively, quarterback Jason Campbell and fellow signal-caller Calvin Booker switched numbers before Monday's practice, a move that Campbell said could become a permanent one in the coming days if he feels like the number suits him.

In the two-minute drill, Campbell was nearly flawless as the entire group of receivers had a good day catching the ball. The same can't be said for the tight end position as Cole Bennett and Charles Mullen were the only two scholarship players on the field at the end of the day with both Cooper Wallace and Kyle Derozan limping around. Wallace strained a calf muscle on his attempt at a comeback from a hamstring injury and could miss several more days. Derozan continues to be bothered by an ankle injury.

"It was not a bad day," Tuberville said. "We had a good practice this morning. We're starting to get a lot of guys beat up a little bit. We've got one practice tomorrow and then a walk-through tomorrow.

"We got our two-minute offense in and that was the only thing we lacked," Tuberville added. "Obviously we don't have of our offense and defense in, but that was the last situation we needed to put in. We'll keep working on it as we go."

The Tigers return to practice on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. for the final day on the intramural fields. Wednesday will be a day off for the team as classes begin on the Auburn campus and Thursday the team will resume practicing. A scrimmage is scheduled for Friday afternoon with a time to be determined.

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