Experimental and Physical Spring Planned

Tommy Tuberville discusses his 2006 Tigers as Auburn prepares for spring practice.

Auburn, Ala.--Tommy Tuberville says that spring football workouts will feature several experiments with an overall theme of developing a consistently physical football team for the 2006 season.

The Auburn head football coach will put his Tigers on the practice field next Tuesday for the first of 15 spring practice sessions.

"The thing we have talked about as a staff for the last month, and to our football players, is we need to get back to being what we want to be here at Auburn--being a physical, hard-nosed, mentally and physically tough football team.

"Last year, I thought the games that we played well, we were that," Tuberville adds. "The games we didn't, there was direct correlation to we weren't that.

"What we want to do this spring is get that back through our coaching staff, our football team. We want to be what we consider a very physical team, in practice, on the game field. We hope that will make us a better defense, a better running team on offense."

On the experiment front, three-year starter at safety, Will Herring, will get a look at strongside linebacker. Tuberville says that at times in recent seasons Herring has lined up at a linebacker type position.

"If you go back and look at our defense the last couple of years, Will, in a high percentage of the games, has moved down from a strong safety or free safety position to the linebacker and played the run and played it pretty well. We want to see what he can do there. We feel like he may be able to help this better at that position and he might be able to help himself better at that position."

Tuberville adds, "I think he will have a chance to go to the next level (NFL) to play linebacker. To play safety might be a little tougher."

Whether or not Herring stays at linebacker will also depend on how Tristan Davis and Lorenzo Ferguson perform at free safety. Ferguson is making the move there from cornerback and Davis split time between tailback and safety last year.

Sophomore cornerback Anthony Campbell is moving from defense to offense as is walk-on lineman Nathan Farrow, who goes from noseguard to guard while Campbell moves to wide receiver.

Senior Christopher Browder is moving from defensive end end to tackle. "He kind of reminds me a Jay Ratliff a couple of years ago," Tuberville says. Browder is still undersized for the position, even though he is up to 262 pounds.

"He is going to be a different type of defensive tackle than what we had last year," Tuberville says. "He has a little more height (6-4). We think Chris is going to be an asset for us in there. He will also be able to play defensive end."

Wayne Dickens, a senior, started at tackle last year and Ratliff was there two seasons ago. Ratliff plays for the Dallas Cowboys.

Another experiment is moving backup tight end Danny Perry to fullback. AU must replace Jake Slaughter who is graduating. Mike McLaughlin, Andrew Turman, Carl Stewart and Stephen Gowland will also work at that spot. "We are going to need more than one or two fullbacks," Tuberville says.

In other spring training notes:

*Safety Tony Bell, whose playing time has been limited mainly to special teams, is officially quitting the team and will be granted his release, Tuberville says. He never seriously challenged for a starting job despite coming to AU as a highly regarded recruit. "He could transfer to another school," Tuberville says.

Tony Bell is shown during an Auburn practice last season.

*The first two days of practices are in shorts and the Tigers will work on punt teams at the opening practice.

*Starting guard Tim Duckworth is expected to see limited action this spring after having his knee scoped to fix a problem that bothered him last season. Tuberville says he expects the senior to be 100 percent well before the start of the 2006 season. "

*Tuberville also says that he is excited about seeing redshirt freshman cornerback Aairon Savage in action this spring. He also notes that two other redshirt freshmen cornerbacks, Jerraud Powers and Walter McFadden, have lots of promise.

*Patrick Lee, a player who was expected to get a look at safety, will start spring practice at cornerback.

*Senior Karibi Dede, who has mostly been an outside linebacker, will start spring practice as the No. 1 middle linebacker ahead of Chris Evans, Courtney Harden and Mark Pickett.

*Merrill Johnson is the No. 1 weakside linebacker ahead of physical redshirt freshman Tray Blackmon.

*Kevin Sears is the No. 2 strongside linebacker behind Herring and ahead of redshirt freshman Patrick Trahan.

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