Auburn, Ala.--With temperatures in the low 30s when the Tigers took the field at 7 a.m. Thursday morning it was the perfect day to begin full pad practices for the Auburn Tigers as they went non-stop for just over two hours in the third of 15 spring practices. Coach Tommy Tuberville said while it was a good day, he wasn't happy with the tempo at the end of practice, but noted it's something the team will have to push through.
"It was a good practice today," Tuberville said. "The first day in full pads the intensity was good. As I just told them, with the speed of practices we're having now, a lot of them I can tell about halfway through they are just mentally shot because they're not used to the fast pace, physically and mentally, keeping up. We've got to keep our attention a lot better going into the last part of practice, which is team. I like the first part. The second half we looked like we got a little tired and lost our focus."
Saturday will be the first big test for the four quarterbacks on Auburn's roster this spring, but Thursday was a good warm up as the Tigers did a lot of throwing from the beginning to the end of the practice. Coach Tony Franklin said that so far none of the quarterbacks has done anything to separate himself and junior college transfer Chris Todd is battling through some arm problems that Franklin said have kept him from showing his full potential.
"Chris looks like his arm is hurting him," Franklin said. "He threw better in high school when he was a freshman than he is probably throwing now. He had a problem when he got here with his shoulder. He didn't throw until about two weeks ago. He just doesn't have anything on the ball at all. What we are seeing right now with him is not what he is. That is not the kid I remember throwing the ball. He has got a long way to go to get healthy. I don't know when he will get healthy. It's probably not going to happen during the spring."
While Todd didn't have his best day, he still made some good throws as did Kodi Burns, Neil Caudle and DeRon Furr. They also each made some throws there were off, allowing the secondary to come up with several interceptions. Two of those came from sophomore Ryan Williams. Big plays came from wide receiver Chris Slaughter and even walk-on Zack Shaw got into the action with a big catch over Jerraud Powers. Tuberville said he's looking for more big plays out of both sides of the ball this spring.
"I watched the wide receivers and they were catching the ball a lot better," Tuberville said. "I watched the db's going against them in one-on-one and we've got a chance. We've got to get better at both positions. We're looking for big play guys on both sides of the ball. That's one thing we haven't had is a big play receiver, not just one but three, and we've got opportunities for several of these guys. The same thing with defensive backs."
Up front the offensive and defensive lines were getting after it and several scuffles broke out including Chaz Ramsey and Josh Bynes squaring off for a moment. Other than that it was business as usual as both sides made plays at times. Perhaps the most impressive player was Zach Clayton, who did a good job in one-on-one drills and carried that over into team drills. Also looking good was linebacker Tray Blackmon. He broke up several passes and also had a number of his signature big hits.
Junior Walter McFadden comes up with a pick during 7-on-7 drills.
On the injury front running back Tristan Davis had his toe stepped on during the practice and had to leave the field. Tuberville said he's hopeful it's just sore, but they will likely x-ray just to be sure. Offensive lineman Rudy Odom (knee) and defensive lineman Darrell Roseman (shin splints) both had surgery this week and will be out for the rest of the spring. Tuberville said he's not sure yet what it means for their futures and it will be determined later.
Auburn's first major scrimmage of the spring will take place Saturday morning at Jordan-Hare Stadium at 10 a.m. following a Friday afternoon practice to polish up the plans and work on the kicking game. Tuberville said the team will also work on getting some of the new rules in place to begin becoming familiar with them.
"We're going to do the 40-second clock," Tuberville said. "We've got to go with that. We're going to try to put all the new rules in that are in place, the out of bounds stuff. We want to try to get into a game situation. Unfortunately, we don't know which rules are going to pass or not so we're just going to go with the ones the rules committed passed.
"We want to play as many people as we can," he added. "In this type of offense instead of getting 120 to 150 plays I would imagine we would get a few more. It might even be shorter if we get to the point where we've had enough plays and enough reps with everybody. We've got four quarterbacks and I would like for them to get 40 to 50 plays each."