Position Change Highlights Physical Practice

Auburn practiced for just over two hours as the Tigers prepare to face The Citadel Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn, Ala.–-Injuries can force players to make adjustments and that's what an injury to Auburn's offensive line has done for freshman Leon Hart.

With second-team right guard Tim Duckworth limited for at least a week after having his knee scoped on Monday, Coach Hugh Nall moved Hart to guard for Tuesday's practice from his spot at right tackle and said the freshman responded well.

"He was playing at right guard today and we moved Rich Trucks back out to tackle," Nall said. "I think Leon is very, very special and I think I need to get him moving around a little bit in case I had to play him somewhere during the year. Hopefully, I won't.

"Right now he's the backup left tackle, but today he played all right guard and I was really impressed. He told me afterwards "I kind of like the guard position." It's a lot less area to cover and really a lot less area to play. There's a good chance you'll see him at guard some Saturday and at left tackle."

As expected the Tigers got after it on Tuesday with a very physical practice that lasted more than two hours. It featured blitz periods for both the offense and defense and plenty of tackling drills.

Solid all season in the open field, the defensive backs again had a good day as Junior Rosegreen put on a clinic with two picture perfect tackles against Courtney Taylor and Anthony Mix.

Defensively, after watching the video of Saturday's win, Coach Gene Chizik said overall that he was pleased with the performance of his defense against a quality opponent like LSU. One part of the game that he hopes will continue to get better this week is Auburn's production on third downs, something that plagued last year's team and had been better this season until last weekend.

"There's a lot of things we need to improve after looking at the game," Chizik said. "We really need to improve third downs. We gave up way too many third downs. I wasn't real pleased with that last-minute drive after looking at it. We could have played so much better on that last drive. We made the play at the end, but we didn't play well on that drive.

"The opening drive of the game was just a series of mistakes all the way down," Chizik added. "That's really what cost us that touchdown on the opening drive. We've really got to work on coming out of the gate at a better pace and being more focused and relaxed. That whole first drive all the way down was caused by mental errors all the way across the board. That was very unpleasing, but after we settled down and started getting into the flow of the game it got a little better."

Leon Hart works against Quentin Groves in a recent practice.

Quarterback Jason Campbell took part in Tuesday's practice and looked to be moving pretty well after spraining his big toe in Saturday's win. The senior is expected to see limited action against The Citadel if things go as planned against the I-AA Bulldogs and give way to redshirt freshman Brandon Cox for extended action. Running back Ronnie Brown was held out of contact on Tuesday as he continues to rehab a slight hamstring pull. He should be fine for Saturday, Coach Tommy Tuberville said.

After struggling with his extra-point snaps against both Mississippi State and LSU, redshirt freshman Pete Compton was taken off the duties on Tuesday to concentrate on punts alone. Chas Crofoot is the leading candidate to replace him, but sophomore Will Ward was out early with the kickers and snappers to try his hand at the position. Ward was a very good deep snapper while at Prattville High School.

One player expected to see plenty of action in this weekend's matchup with The Citadel was defensive tackle Pat Sims. A true freshman, Sims injured his ankle the Monday following Auburn's season-opening win against Louisiana-Monroe and was set to return this week, but a family emergency has forced him to return home.

"Pat Sims' sister has passed away unexpectedly," Tuberville said. "She was at the game on Saturday and passed away Monday at home. Pat has returned home and won't return to Auburn until early next week. We're all praying for Pat and the Sims family in this time of need."

With Sims out you can expect to see a great deal of both Neil Brown and Tez Doolittle at the tackle position against the Bulldogs. Sims will see action at both end and tackle and has played both already this season. Doolittle is currently the fourth-team tackle.

Coming off Saturday's emotional victory over LSU and with a Division I-AA opponent on the schedule this week, it would seem to be prime material for a letdown game for the Tigers.

"It's not tough because if you come out here and play your C game you would lose to any team," Rosegreen said. "We're going to come out and play our A game every game. We want to take one play at a time and one game at a time. We'll go from there."

Expected to be the weaker part of the 2004 Auburn team, the defense has been solid through three games this season. Allowing just 23 total points, with just 10 coming against the first-team defense, the Tigers have exceeded expectations. Rosegreen said that he's pleased with where the defense is right now.

"I knew we were going to be pretty good as long as we played together as a team," Rosegreen said. "Karlos Dansby and D.T. (Dontarrious Thomas) called me after the game and said "ya'll are going to be way better than us. Last year we had a lot of "I" and there's no "I" in team. Ya'll are faster than we were. You need to stop playing and take one play at a time, one game at a time, and this is going to be a special year for you". They were excited and calling me and letting me know that if we keep doing what we're doing we'll be fine."

Auburn will practice Wednesday and Thursday before heading to LaGrange, Ga., Friday afternoon. Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and there is no pay-per-view for the contest. Auburn's other non-conference game scheduled on Oct. 9th vs. Louisiana Tech will kick off at 2:30 p.m. and will be a pay per view telecast.


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