Tuberville And Tigers Looking To Add Depth

Auburn had its second spring football practice on Tuesday and Coach Tommy Tuberville said that he's now ready to see the players in contact action.

Auburn, Ala.–-Day number two of spring football practice is in the books for the Auburn Tigers as they had their second learning day Wednesday before putting on the pads beginning with Thursday's practice.

Coach Tommy Tuberville said the two-hour practice was a good one for his team and now he's anxious to see how they respond to a physical practice filled with contact.

"We got a lot done in two days," Tuberville said. "When you go in shorts there's not a whole lot you can do in football, but we put a lot of new things in like formations, defenses and plays.

"Offensively we're really throwing a lot at our players. We'll have a few quarterbacks with their heads swimming. It will be interesting to see how they handle it starting tomorrow when we have the teams going against each other.

"We'll have a lot of blitz drill, a lot of contact, a lot of one-on-one and a lot of fundamental drills. We've got to find out with some of these younger guys what they can learn and maintain during a week of practice. Tomorrow we'll start separating the guys that can and the guys that are going to left behind."

Sophomore cornerback Patrick Lee is looking to make a move for the vacant starting job this spring.

A defensive coach, Tuberville usually likes to watch the defense in spring practice to get an idea of how well guys are playing and how that side of the ball is shaping up. Wednesday he did just that and he said that the unit has a chance to be special because everybody on the field can run, something he believes makes a defense better from top to bottom.

Just looking for depth at several spots, he said that quite a few young players have caught his eye in just two days of practice.

"I like Lorenzo Ferguson," Tuberville said. "I've been watching mostly defense because there's not a lot you can do offensively. Defensively, I've been watching some of the corners like Anthony Campbell, Tristan Davis, Chris Evans and I think Octavious Balkcom has a chance to really help us next year.

"You really can't tell until you put the pads on, but the speed and quickness, this is about as fast as this defense has been since we've been here from top to bottom. At key positions we just have to get some key experience and get it done pretty quickly."

Because two starting positions have been left vacant with the losses of Carlos Rogers and Junior Rosegreen, the need for leaders in the secondary falls to veterans such as Will Herring, Montae Pitts and Kevin Hobbs. The only players back that have a significant amount of experience, Tuberville said the trio would have to become better leaders in order to help the defense mature as one unit.

"They're going to have to be the bellcow to what we're doing in the defensive backfield to help bring all these young guys," Tuberville said. "Patrick Lee hasn't really played much like some of the other guys. Will Herring is really going to have to step up and be, not just a secondary leader, but a defensive leader along with Montae Pitts. Those two have the most experience and your young guys learn from the older guys."

Offensively, the Tigers threw several new plays and formations into the mix on Wednesday and for the most part the unit responded well. Every quarterback threw the ball well in drills and during one-on-one work while receivers Courtney Taylor, Devin Aromashodu and Ben Obomanu stood out on the receiving end along with walk-on Maurice Anderson.

With the new APR scores coming down on Monday academics have been a big part of the college sports world this week. While football is in good shape at Auburn, scoring a 960 to lead the SEC schools, it is an ongoing process as evidenced by the first two days of practice. Both receiver Anthony Mix and safety Tony Bell have fallen behind in that area and Tuberville said both would have to pick it up to get back on the practice field this spring.

"We've got two players right now that are behind a little bit academically so we're not going to let them practice until they get back into the fold," Tuberville said. "They'll do that, but we want to make sure they get back on the path they need to be on to be eligible and get their degree."

The Tigers put on the full pads for the first time this spring beginning on Thursday at a 4 p.m. practice. Auburn will hold its first scrimmage of the spring Saturday morning at 10 on the practice fields.

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