More Experimentation On Defense for Tigers

The Tigers returned to the practice field for a full pads workout on Tuesday.

Auburn, Ala.--The Tigers put on full pads for a 90-minute football workout on Tuesday that featured a heavy emphasis on the passing game as well as one on one drills for both the offensive and defensive players.

"It was a good practice with good enthusiasm," said head coach Tommy Tuberville. "We had a little lack of attention early, but that is young guys after a day off. They have got to be able to shift gears and turn it around. That is the reason you have spring ball."

Tuberville started practice earlier than normal so players with late Tuesday classes could get some on the field time. The practice was the seventh of 15 in the spring. The Tigers will scrimmage again on Saturday and have their annual spring game the following Saturday.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Tray Blackmon (10) goes against sophomore Andrew McCain, who moved to offensive tackle last week.

One of the spring experiments continued in the second week with three-year starting safety Will Herring continuing to work at strongside linebacker. He had a sack in the 11 on 11 work after getting to practice late due to a class conflict.

"Will is doing good," Tuberville said. "He needs a lot more fundamental work with run technique. His pass is going to be fine.

"A big reason we have been running the ball is we have a lot of young guys, Tray Blackmon and Will, playing linebacker for the first time and guys who are unproven like Doolittle (defensive lineman Tez Doolittle) and Sims (defensive lineman Pat Sims). It is a situation that is working out good, but we could use 30 days instead of 15."

The Tigers are doing some more experimentation on defense. Safety Steve Gandy is scheduled to get some practice at weakside linebacker where Blackmon, who intercepted a pass in the 11 on 11 work, is running first team with Merrill Johnson out for the spring with an ankle sprain.

Steve Gandy has been practicing at free safety.

Defensive end Quentin Groves lined up and played some outside linebacker on Tuesday, also. Groves also got an interception when he picked off a screen pass thrown by quarterback Brandon Cox.

Kenny Irons had a good day running the football and fellow tailback Tre Smith went the distance in the 11 on 11 work after splitting a seam in the defense on a pass from Cox over the middle. However, all things considered, the defense is ahead of the offense with eight more spring practices remaining.

"Defensively, we are making some headway," Tuberville says. "We didn't get anybody hurt today."

In other news:

*Safety Lorenzo Ferguson, who bruised a shoulder in Saturday's scrimmage, has missed two practices and is expected to be out again at Wednesday's practice. However, Tuberville is expecting the converted cornerback to be ready for Thursday's session if the Tigers decide to go that day. The advance weather forecast calls for the possibility of severe weather and if that happens the practice will be postponed.

*One of the state's top junior quarterbacks, Prattville High School's Larry Smith, was there to check out the practice.

*Wide receiver Prechae Rodriguez had a good day catching the football.

*Auburn's coaches are hopeful that tight end Gabe McKenzie will be cleared to practice on Wednesday. He has a hamstring problem.

*Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite followed his impressive Saturday scrimmage with a strong performance in the 11 on 11 work that included a leaping interception that won him a handshake from new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.

*Cornerback Pat Lee picked off a pass thrown by backup QB Calvin Booker.

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