Position Move Highlights Tuesday Practice

One of Auburn's top defenders may be pulling double duty against the USC Trojans.

Auburn, Ala.--With defensive end Reggie Torbor still a question mark as to whether he'll be full speed for Monday's game after suffering a knee sprain in Friday's practice, the Auburn defensive coaches decided to help shore up the position by moving defensive tackle Spencer Johnson out to end on Tuesday. Although the move isn't permanent, they wanted to get him some work just in case he's needed against USC.

Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik said that plans had been in the works for a long time and they just decided to pull the trigger this week.

"At the beginning of the year we had talked about being able to play Spencer out there some," Chizik said. "This was the week that we really felt like we would get him over there and get him some reps. We did that some today. We'll have a plan. We have a plan if Reggie can't play and Spencer is a part of those plans. We'll see how that works out."

If Johnson does go outside, it will mean increased playing time for backup defensive linemen Dante Booker, Wayne Dickens and Tommy Jackson. Because of his experience, DeMarco McNeil might shift to the tackle spot to play in front of Booker and allow Dickens and Jackson to play the easier noseguard position

Practicing in full pads for the final time before the season opener against the USC Trojans, the Tigers worked out for just over two hours on Tuesday. With most of the time spent on installing the game plan on both offense and defense, the coaching staff had the first and second units go against scout teams to simulate what they will see in game situations. They also had some contact with an inside drill. Chizik said his group had a good day as the Tigers begin to close in on the game.

"I think their enthusiasm is somewhat renewed now that they know it's really officially game week," Chizik noted. "Their concentration was better today than it has been. They really tried to focus on things since we narrowed the game plan down. I think everybody is trying to focus on exactly what we need to do. We've still got five or six days left so I think we're on track."

Defensive end Bret Eddins, who has been hampered by a slight groin pull since Friday, was back at practice on Tuesday and appeared to be suffering no ill effects from the injury. His presence along with that of Torbor, who said he expects to be back practicing on Thursday, should help ease the concern of the coaching staff over the position.

Wide receiver Silas Daniels jogs during Tuesday's practice. Auburn players wore their game jerseys during the practice to get a feel for them and how they fit. This is a standard procedure and the team will do it again next week with the home blue jerseys.

Offensively, the coaching staff was happy as weak tackle Mark Pera and wide receiver Marcel Willis both were moving well on Tuesday. Pera, out with a hip flexor injury suffered in Auburn's first scrimmage of the fall, worked in contact drills and should be good to go against the Trojans. The same is true of Willis although offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino said he looked a little stiff in his first day back from a slight hamstring pull.

With almost a full contingent of offensive players for the first day since the opening of two-a-days, Petrino said the group had a good day of work as they work on installing the game plan for USC. With a team searching for an identity, he noted that they're trying to gear down the offense until the find out what this group does best in game situations.

"We've installed it all," Petrino said. "We've cut back this week, tried to simplify. What's important to us is to go into the game and try not to make mental errors, number one. We're going to try to eliminate negative plays, number two, so we're not getting sacked and ending up second and 15 or second and 20. Then we have to take care of the football, not turn it over. I think if we do those things right there, we've got enough playmakers that we'll make some plays and be able to move the ball down the field."

One of the players whoshould help that cause is receiver Silas Daniels. Back practicing Tuesday after sitting out Sunday with a slight groin pull, Daniels said that he's looked forward to this week for a long time. After being used mainly as a backup in 2001, the sophomore is hoping to show what he can do and he reasons there is no better time than the present to get that ball rolling.

"I've been waiting for this game for a long time," Daniels said. "I just want to show everyone that I can really play football in the SEC, play football in college. I just want to show everyone that I'm capable of making big plays...this game is something you really shoot for. This is one of our key games in the season. We have a very young team and this will show us where we are."

Auburn returns to practice Wednesday with a workout scheduled for shorts and shoulder pads. Starting on the practice fields, the team will work on the game plan and special teams before going to Jordan-Hare Stadium for the final 50 minutes of the evening to work on game situations such as hand signals, head phones and substitutions. They will do this again on Friday night after a normal Thursday practice. The team leaves for Los Angeles Saturday and will practice Saturday night in the Coliseum.


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