Bosley Back, Kickers and Receivers Struggle

Tuesday night's Auburn football practice report is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville gave his team a stern speech following Tuesday night's practice about staying mentally focused through the grind of preseason camp. Two aspects where it takes just as much mental work as it does physical prowess--kicking and catching--were subpar and the team ran sprints for five minutes following the session.

"This is the first time we've gone this long without a day off, and we probably need one," Tuberville explains. "We've gone at decent hours and the guys have made it through practice and pushed pretty good. We've had one or two even think about cramping up. It's just mental focus and the mental grind is getting to us.

"We come out here for two hours and 15 minutes," he continues, "but that's only part of what we do in camp. We stay in meetings four or five hours a day. That's the part that's getting to them more than anything--the grind."

The Tigers have not had an off day since camp started on Aug. 2 and Tuesday night it showed. That was especially true late in the practice when it was time for the kicking game to take center stage.

Kickers Zach Kutch and Wes Byrum were called upon to make field goals from 42-yards away to keep the team from running, but both missed. Kutch made just one of his five attempts while Byrum was perfect until his final kick from distances of 28, 33, 38 and 43 yards.

"The effort is good, but we just have to keep the intensity and enthusiasm and get some of the younger guys concentrating," Tuberville explains. "When you get a ball thrown at you, you've got to catch it. It wasn't a good day, but we'll get better. We've got a lot more opportunities. The kicking game was also very susceptible to not being good. We took a step back."

The offensive line got good news with the return of starting center Jason Bosley. "I thought it would be one more day, but he wanted to go," Tuberville notes. "It's mental toughness. He likes the game."

Here Bosley snaps to Brandon Cox. He has earned the respect of his teammates and coaches.

Ryan Pugh also got work with the first unit at center, and Chaz Ramsey spent the practice back at guard. Antwoin Daniels split time with Lee Ziemba at right tackle and Daniels even got some work in at left guard. Leon Hart is still out with a sprained ankle, so Mike Berry was the first-team right guard.

Linebacker Merrill Johnson and punter Ryan Shoemaker returned to practice. Montez Billings and Carl Stewart continued to nurse hamstring injuries and ran on the side and rode the exercise bikes.

The receiving corps had perhaps its worst day so far this camp, and had to stay after practice catching passes from the quarterbacks. Tight end Tommy Trott had several nice leaping catches down field, but even he got fussed at by the coaches for dropping one in the breadbasket.

It might not have been a productive night for the offense, but the defense had a solid night as an overall unit once again.

"Today wasn't one of our better practices," Tuberville says. "We didn't execute very well, but the effort was good. Defensively we stood out a little bit today. Guys are fighting through injuries and being tired. Offensively we're just not strong enough mentally to make many plays. There were some good points, but offense is all about consistency and there wasn't much out there today."

With kickoffs being moved back five yards to the 30-yard line this season, Coach Eddie Gran spent some more time on Tuesday working on kickoff returns. Mario Fannin and Patrick Lee worked as the primary returners and Ben Tate and Walter McFadden also got some work as the deep backs.

One area that the coaches were pleased with was in the conditioning aspect. Having to run sprints at the end of the session, the strength and conditioning coaches were satisfied and there weren't any players that noticeably struggled.

The Tigers return to work on Wednesday at 9:15 a.m. on the practice fields and 6:45 p.m. on the intramural fields before getting an off day on Thursday, which is the first day of fall classes at Auburn.

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