Baptism By Fire For Pugh At Center

Auburn freshman center Ryan Pugh talks about Monday's practice and working against the first defense.

Auburn, Ala.--When Jason Bosley went down with a knee injury late in Sunday night's practice, true freshman Ryan Pugh was called on to finish the night and did so in admirable fashion.

With Bosley listed as day-to-day with a bruised knee, Pugh was again the man at center Monday night for the Tigers, but saw a much different defense out of Coach Will Muschamp to add to his already long list of things to learn as an offensive lineman in the SEC.

"It wasn't all bad," Pugh admitted. "It's a lot faster and I've got to get used to the speed of the game. You play with the two's for a while and you get used to that speed. Now you go up with the one's and you've got to get used to that speed. I think it's going to be a good day to go in and watch film and learn. I've got to just keep getting better.

"You've just got to step in there and take it," Pugh said of getting the reps with the first team. "This is what I have been kind of waiting for, not for him to get injured, but if it happens then I'm there. I just want to try to learn everything and get everything right so in case something like that happens I'm ready.

" It's unfortunate for Bosley and I hope he gets back as soon as he can. He's a great guy and definitely he's a leader on the offensive line right now. We miss him. I hope he can get back because I learn as much from him as anybody."

Ryan Pugh works against Josh Thompson during Monday night's practice.

The learning process gets no tougher for a young offensive lineman that seeing a blitz package from the defense. For Pugh on Monday night, that meant lining up across from Josh Thompson and Pat Sims while also keeping an eye out for Tray Blackmon and Chris Evans flying past him in the middle. He said it was an eye-opening experience dealing with the blitz packages for really the first time.

"Coach Muschamp has got a lot of stuff he can throw at you," Pugh said. "He's a good defensive coordinator. Right now, as a young guy, they are throwing the whole book at us. They are bringing them from everywhere.

"It's just fast right now. You try not to lose confidence in yourself during the period but I got down on myself a little bit because you don't want a falloff between you and the guy ahead of you. It's something I can definitely learn from but the blitz period was something I struggled with."

The son of a coach, Pugh said the offense did some good things in Monday's practice. It was particularly evident during the inside running drill that features the offense minus the receivers vs. the defense minus the cornerbacks. Pugh said they did some good things running the ball and it gives them something to build on for Tuesday's practice.

"In the inside period I thought we had a good night all around," Pugh said. "We all came out and had a lot of good get-off as a unit. We were blocking together more than anything. If we keep coming off the ball like that during the run blocking we'll keep doing better."

With a full practice under his belt working with the first team, Pugh is ahead of where most true freshman ever get at any position. He said the experience he got in Monday's practice is something he'll use to continue to improve in case he's called on to help the Tigers win this season.

"I feel a lot more comfortable, but today was just so much more fast paced and the blitz period got to me a little bit," Pugh said. "It's something you've just got to shake off and keep going. I didn't mess up too many calls. It's just a learning process and I feel like I've got a better grasp on the playbook. After watching the film I'll learn a lot more about myself and about the offense."

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