Fundamentals the Focus for Tigers on Monday

Auburn practiced on Monday (Labor Day) instead of the usual Sunday in order for the Tigers to lick their wounds from the first game and to avoid school conflicts. Coordinators Al Borges and Will Muschamp give an update on the Tigers' Monday practice session.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn returned to the practice fields on Monday for the first time since the 23-13 victory over Kansas State. The Tigers worked on correcting some mistakes made against the Wildcats and also spent some time on the game plan for Saturday's upcoming game against South Florida.

"It was a little bit more extended," Muschamp said. "We did a good summer scout on South Florida so we got a head start on them from the previous year. We did a little bit more of an extended practice."

After giving up five sacks and not scoring a touchdown until the final minutes of the game, it was back to fundamentals for the offense.

"It was a little bit of the game plan of what we're going to see," Borges said. "(We had to) get back to some fundamental things up front. Every day Hugh (Nall) is such a grinder on that stuff. He grinds it and grinds it and eventually it kicks in. It will with these guys. It has with everybody else he's coached."

Borges added that the coached were "fired up" about the hustle and intensity from freshmen Mike Berry and Lee Ziemba even though there were a few expected mistakes.

"So much of it is technique and fundamentals, I really believe that, and having full understanding of our assignments," Borges said. "We've got a lot of young guys and you're going to hear me say that a lot. There are going to be some growing pains that go with that. That's what you're dealing with. Until we get a little synergy, until we get a little confidence, and start working hard at consistently improving our techniques, that's what the run game needs. It's toughness, it's attitude, and it's technique."


Mario Fannin didn't get any carries against the Wildcats, but Borges says that he will be a part of the game plan against the Bulls on Saturday.

Several players were dinged up against the Wildcats, and some returned to the practice field on Monday. Linebacker Tray Blackmon and Patrick Lee were at practice but did not dress out. Blackmon had a walking boot on his left ankle for an injury suffered on his interception return at the end of the first half. Aairon Savage also missed the entire second half of the game. However, he dressed for practice, participated in the defensive walk-through at the beginning and had a heavily taped left ankle. Jonathan Wilhite (hamstring) and Montez Billings (hamstring) also dressed. Wes Byrum, who injured his right ankle on his first kickoff, was in a walking boot.

As customary, head coach Tommy Tuberville did not speak with the media on Monday, so the status of the walking wounded is still unclear.

"They were out there," Muschamp noted. "(The prognosis) that's Coach Tuberville's call."

With so many players going down with injuries, Muschamp said after watching the film that several backups played key roles in the victory. He added that the defensive line was a strong point as the Tigers allowed just 13 points and 2.6 yards per designed running play.

"Antonio Coleman, Pat Sims, Quentin Groves, Patrick Lee, Zach Gilbert all produced high, produced well," Muschamp said. "I'm real pleased with those guys. Again I'm real pleased with Chris Evans coming in there with Tray's injury. Zac Etheridge played the entire game. Eric Brock played well for us. There were some guys that stepped up. Zach Gilbert came in and played some quality snaps for us and played well. I was real pleased to be able to go to those guys and feel good about them."

Antonio Coleman, who was celebrating a birthday, and Pat Sims were the Defensive Players of the Week for the Tigers even though Quentin Groves was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week. Gabe McKenzie, who scored the game-winning touchdown and had several other key receptions was the Offensive Player of the Week. Playing injured, Byrum hit three of four field goals with his only miss from 47 yards. He won the special teams award.

The Tigers pick up the normal game week practice schedule on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. Tuberville's weekly press conference is schedule for 1 p.m. Kickoff of South Florida versus Auburn will be at 8 p.m. on Saturday and the game will be televised on ESPN2.


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