Friday Football Focus On The Foot

Auburn wrapped up its first week of one-a-day practices with a Friday evening session.

Auburn, Ala.--For a second straight evening, the football Tigers had a busy teaching day as they drilled for 2 1/2 hours in shorts, helmets and shoulder pads with a heavy emphasis on special teams and down and distance situations on offense and defense.

Tuberville has pushed the start of the workouts back to 5 p.m. to avoid the sweltering August heat that was giving players problems with heavy fluid losses. The Tigers, who finished up under the lights, were given the rest of the evening off and will also take the day off on Saturday before returning to practice on Sunday evening. The team will also not practice on Monday, which is its normal day off during the season.

Damon Duval continues to work on what has been the most inconsistent part of his punting game--pinning opponents inside the 20-yard line as close to the goal line as possible. Philip Yost, who is also working as a backup punter in addition to his role as Duval's backup at kicking field goals, continues to show signs of improvement as a punter.

Cornerback Roderick Hood is shown during a Friday punt return drill.

Roderick Hood continues to look like the first choice to return punts with Joe Walkins still sidelined by a thigh injury. Ben Obomanu, Marcel Willis and Tre Smith are also in the mix as punt returners. Smith struggled with his catches on Friday and Willis was held out as a preventative measure to make sure his hamstring injury doesn't crop up again. Tuberville says he expects Hood to be cleared for full contact work on Tuesday.

Tuberville says he likes Hood's willingness to run north-south as either a punt returner or kickoff returner. Willis has the best hands of any of the punt returners, but has missed most of preseason drills with a hamstring problem so he is unlikely to be the No. 1 returner early in the season.

Auburn has two strong options on field goals, extra points and kickoffs with redshirt senior Duval and redshirt sophomore Yost. Yost showed his improved leg strength by drilling a kickoff through the uprights during a kick coverage drill.

Travaris Robinson, a senior free safety, works on the kickoff team at Friday's practice.

The Tigers will take the day off from practice on Saturday before continuing preparations for Southern Cal on Sunday.

Tiger Ticket Extra: Offensive line coach Hugh Nall spent a good portion of the practice drilling his guards, tackles and centers on the finer points of pass blocking. Individual players spent time on footwork drills as they had to follow a chalk path lined on the practice field that looked like a child's drawing of a Christmas tree. First team weak tackle Mark Pera has still not been cleared for full contact work, but Tuberville says he is not concerned. Redshirt freshman Steven Ross is continuing to get the practice time as the No. 1 weak tackle. "Mark Pera knows what to do at the position," Tuberville says. "He got a lot of work in during spring drills. Steven Ross has benefitted from the work because he missed almost all of spring training."...Wide receiver Joe Walkins is scheduled to have outpatient surgery on Monday at HealthSouth in Birmingham to have a hematoma (tumor-like mass produced by an accumulation of coagulated blood in a cavity) in his thigh corrected that has kept him on the sideline all week. Walkins could be ready to play for the USC game, Tuberville says...Tuberville had praise on Friday for walk-on senior offensive guard Ryan Hockett, who continues to run first team at weakside guard. "He is quick, has good technique and works hard."


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