Following a vicious hit on wide receiver Larry Summers by safety Travaris Robinson, the sides began to get physical with each other and the results were a couple of all out brawls that got the intensity sky-high for the remainder of the practice.
"I like to see them compete," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "You don't want them to get out of control and obviously that wasn't, it was more of a fun deal. The guys were competing more than anything else. The intensity was a lot better. I think a lot of them read the newspaper after yesterday's practice and they took a little offense to it. They went out and said, ‘Hey, we have to work harder.' They did that."
Chris Butler made several good inside runs in the 11 on 11 work on Wednesday.
Looking good for most of the day in the teamwork was the offensive line. Taking the challenge of the defense to heart, the group of Mark Pera, Monreko Crittenden, Ben Nowland, David Walker and Ryan Broome paved the way for a strong running day as Carnell Williams and Chris Butler broke off several long runs in the team portion of the practice.
"We're still not very good on the offensive line," Tuberville said. "I'm not talking about abilities, just working together and not having too many breakdowns. Today they competed better. The defense is starting to talk a little bit to them about how bad they are whipping up on them. You like a little bit of that because you like guys to answer back. You want more of that in the spring. We don't do a lot of that in the fall because there is a lot of teaching and game planning and we don't go against each other. I just think the offense has had about all they can handle of the defense sticking their chest out because the defense has won just about every drill or practice that we've had."
Lorenzo Diamond catches a pass during Wednesday's practice.
While the offense had a much better day up front, the defense still had the upper hand most of the day with tackles Spencer Johnson and Wayne Dickens making plays with the first team defense. Perhaps the most impressive player on defense Wednesday was end Jay Ratliff. Continuing to improve while recoving from a knee injury that has hampered him since the first day of full pads, Ratliff showed that he can get to the quarterback as he had several sacks during the 11-on-11 work and also made some plays against the running game.
"I still have a lot to learn, but I consider myself and aggressive football player and I am trying to do the best I can to help the team," Ratliff said.
Early on the focus of the practice was again on fundamentals. Offensively, the team worked together on perfecting the execution of the new offense of coordinator Bobby Petrino. While the offense worked as a unit the defense spent much of its time grouped in positions working on stunts, calls and even turnovers. A big part of new coordinator Gene Chizik's defensive philosophy is creating turnovers and that is easily detectable once you see an Auburn practice. Each defensive group worked not only on stripping the ball but recovering it and advancing it down the field.
Safety Travaris Robinson continues to excel during spring practice.
On the injury front there was some good news as fullback Brandon Johnson practiced on Wednesday wearing a red non-contact jersey. Looking fit and ready to go, the junior will practice the remainder of the spring but won't play in Saturday's A-Day game. Defensive tackle Demarco McNeil is still nursing the knee injury that bothered him all last season but was in pads on Wednesday doing some running on the side. Tailback Casinious Moore sat out Wednesday's practice with a sore right leg but is expected back this weekend.
The Tigers will practice at 3:45 p.m. Thursday afternoon inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. The practice will include a shortened scrimmage that will take place beginning about one hour into the workday. Saturday the A-Day game will begin at 1 p.m. and it will feature the first team offense against the first team defense and the same for the second teams. The team will be available for a short autograph session following the A-Day game.
(Left to Right: Herring, Jackson, Ward are shown at Wednesday's practice.
Tiger Ticket Extra: While the action was hot on the field Wednesday, on the sidelines it was a recruiting who's who with signees Tommy Jackson, Will Herring, Will Ward and Montae Pitts all in attendance. It's been widely reported of the work Pitts has done in the weight room but looking around Wednesday it was obvious he isn't the only one working hard. Jackson told Inside The Auburn Tigers that he's been spending his time in the weight room getting prepared for next fall. Up to 305 pounds, he was very excited about what he saw out of the Tiger defense during the practice. Still needing more weight, Ward said he had gained 15 pounds and was ready to get on campus next fall. Herring, still playing baseball, is up to 208 pounds and looks like he's ready to take a shot at safety right now...One of the top juniors in the state was in attendance as well Wednesday as receiver Chad Jackson from Hoover High School watched practice along with his head coach Rush Propst and two teammates. He spent a great deal of time talking with Pitts on the sidelines while watching the Auburn offense...Despite the offense and defense squaring off in the 11 on 11 work, redshirt freshman tight end Cooper Wallace said there were no hard feelings. "Everybody was laughing about it afterwards in the dressing room," Wallace said. Strong safety Junior Rosegreen agreed. "We are just trying to get the offense ready for the season. I was glad to see them get after us out there at the end of practice. That is the way football is supposed to be played."