Passing Game Emphasized In AU's Practice

A report on Auburn's Wednesday football practice is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Day two of 15 spring practices was a workout in shorts that featured attention to individual skills along with plenty of work on the passing game.

Head coach Tommy Tuberville said he liked what he saw. Tuberville noted that it looks like the Tigers are going to have quality depth in the secondary this season.

Even with returning starter David Irons missing Wednesday's practice to work on an academic project, the cornerbacks had a good day going against the quarterbacks and receivers.

"We watched the DBs today," Tuberville said. "They looked a lot quicker than they did this past season. We have got a lot of new faces we are looking at. There is going to be a lot of competition with those guys this spring."

Position coaches on the field had praise for the work of redshirt freshmen cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Aairon Savage, who got a lot of looks along with fellow 2005 signee Walter McFadden, who is obviously more effective in the secondary with his added size and strength since last fall.

Tuberville also noted that veterans Pat Lee and Montae Pitts are doing good things, too, along with returning cornerback starter Jonathan Wilhite. Lee is getting looks at both cornerback and safety this spring.

Even walk-on cornerback Zach Gilbert got into the action with several nice plays, including an interception in the six (five receivers, 1 QB) drills vs. seven pass defenders.

Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp yelled out approval for defenders making good plays and junior Eric Brock, who is battling Steve Gandy for the starting strong safety spot, heard his name called by the new Auburn assistant coach.

Safety Eric Brock closes in a pursuit drill Wednesday.

Tuberville said he is looking forward to Thursday's practice and Saturday's scrimmage. "The next three days we will be in full pads," he said. "We will be working on fundamental techniques for two days. Then Saturday morning around 9:45 or 10 o'clock we will have a full scrimmage and start seeing who is going to step up and make plays." The scrimmage will be at the stadium and is open to the public.

Commenting on Thursday's workout, Tuberville said, "It was a good practice. Guys were showing a lot of enthusiasm. There is not a lot you can do in shorts. There were a lot of mental reps."

In other news:

*Defensive linemen Christopher Browder and Marquis Gunn missed the Wednesday practice because of a conflict with classes as did offensive tackle King Dunlap. Offensive lineman Jonathan Palmer missed about half of the session with a class.

*Redshirt freshman defensive end Alonzo Horton was held out of practice due to a stiff back.

*Redshirt freshman tight end Gabe McKenzie "tweaked a hamstring," said Tuberville, who expects the backup to miss several days of practice.

*On Thursday the Tigers are scheduled to work on field goals, extra points, punt returns and punt protection plus coverage.

*Tuberville singled out wide receiver Anthony Campbell for having a good day. The sophomore is making the move to offense from cornerback.

*Prechae Rodriguez, a 6-4, 200-pound target, had another impressive practice catching the football. The junior may develop into one of QB Brandon Cox's favorite targets.

*At Thursday's practice, Auburn is expecting 300 to 350 high school coaches to be in attendance. They will be in town for the annual Auburn University football coaching clinic that runs through Friday evening.


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