Nall Doing What Needed To Be Done

Coach Hugh Nall talks about dealing with the death of his brother while still preparing to face Georgia. Also practice notes with coach David Gibbs.

Auburn, Ala.–-This week is always a special one for offensive line coach Hugh Nall because the Tigers square off against his alma mater Georgia in the Deep South's oldest rivalry. Sunday it became the toughest week of the season when Nall's brother passed away because of a heart attack in his Thomaston home.

"It's been tough, it really has," Nall says. "Sunday was tough. I went home to see the family. You have that guilty part of coming back because I came home on Monday. That was tough. Today when I called they were going to view his body and you felt like you should have been there for that. But, I'll be there all day tomorrow and do what needs to be done tomorrow.

"He's the biggest football fan in the world and the biggest Bulldog fan in the world except when we played them," he adds. "He's my biggest fan. He understood. I had to come back and get my job done and do what needed to be done to help win this game."

Nall doesn't have to deal with this alone as Auburn's coaching staff and team have rallied around him in the days since the news. Nall says that has been comforting, especially coming from his offensive linemen.

"It has been really amazing," Nall says. "All of them called me on Sunday and they had a card waiting on me when I got back. They've been real good about it. They certainly understand. Some of them have had losses that they've had to deal with, so they know where I'm at. But, once again it's that time of year where you have to work."

The work began on Tuesday as the Tigers practiced for just over two hours in full pads in preparation for the Bulldogs. Nall says that after experimenting with some changes last week on the offensive line that things will return to normal with week on the line. That means Troy Reddick back at starting right tackle and Timmy Duckworth at right guard after missing the Kentucky game resting a strained groin.

"I'll get him some work tomorrow at center," Nall says of Reddick. "I worked J.P. (Jonathan Palmer) there today since Duck was back. That freed him up to move back to second-team center. I'll get Reddick there some work tomorrow. Troy will start at right tackle and Duck is back. It will be the same group."

Duckworth returned to full speed practice on Tuesday and will be in the lineup against the Bulldogs.

One player who will continue to see some action up front is sophomore tackle Leon Hart. After earning player of the week honors from the league in his first start at Kentucky, Nall says Hart did some things very well and should see more time on the field because of it.

"I thought he played pretty good," Nall says. "He played hard and did a really nice job. His protection was pretty good for the most part and his run blocking was real good. He had several pancake blocks. He played hard. It was a good experience for him. It was a good first game to start."

The offensive line will be a big key for the Tigers this week as it is in every game, but Saturday they'll face one of the top defensive fronts in the SEC in Georgia. With depth and experience up and down the line, the Bulldogs pose a serious threat to Auburn's offense and Nall says they're a very tough bunch.

"I just see big red people all over the place," Nall says. "They've got the first group and the second group and the third group and the fourth group, they're loaded. Their inside guys are huge and athletic. Their ends, the Moses kid (Quentin Moses) has eight sacks and 13 tackles for a loss. He's impressive. All of them are. They have a lot of depth and they are by far the best we've seen. It will be a challenge."

On the injury front the Tigers are banged up heading into the Georgia game with several players held out of part of Tuesday's practice with bumps and bruises. Among them were Courtney Taylor (ribs), Kevin Sears (knee), Marquies Gunn (hamstring) and Steven Ross (hip flexor). All are expected back in time for Saturday night's kickoff.

The news is much better for tailback Brad Lester as he returned to practice full speed last week and appears ready to see some time against the Bulldogs. Carl Stewart, who is out with a sprained MCL, says that he's hoping to be ready for next week's game against rival Alabama but he's still uncertain if that will happen.

Tristan Davis

With starter Kenny Irons still a little banged-up as well with a bruised thigh, it has opened the door for redshirt freshman Tristan Davis to work into the rotation. Working a great deal with the first team during Tuesday's practice, Davis has been put on the fast track and would be ready to go if needed for extensive action against the Bulldogs.

The Tigers will have their work cut out for them this weekend facing a Georgia offense that is one of the more balanced in the league. Defensive coordinator David Gibbs says that makes it tougher to defend because they can hurt you in so many different ways beginning with a talented quarterback.

"They're right there with LSU as far as talent," Gibbs says. "After studying them for a couple of days I think Shockley (D.J. Shockley) is so much more improved as a passer than he was a year ago it's not even funny. Everybody knows how great of an athlete he is and how fast he is and the dimension he brings to the game there, but his quality throwing the ball to the right people and reading defenses now, it doesn't look like the same guy that I saw against Auburn a year ago."

The Tigers will practice Wednesday and Thursday with a short walk-through on Friday before busing to Atlanta for the night. Saturday's kickoff against Georgia in Sanford Stadium is scheduled for 6:45 CST and can be seen nationally on ESPN.

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