Tigers Focus On Learning In Sunday Practice

Coach Tommy Tuberville reviews Saturday's first spring scrimmage and gives an injury update.

Auburn, Ala.--Returning to the practice field after a long and physical scrimmage on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium, the Auburn Tigers practiced for two hours in shorts and shoulder pads. Coach Tommy Tuberville said the day was one for his team to learn and also implement the learning on the field.

"The main thing with the young guys is we're trying to spend more time in the film room," Tuberville said. "They went about an hour and a half today and teaching guys how to scrimmage. A lot of guys really didn't know what to expect. Then we came out and started adding a few things we're going to work on Tuesday and Thursday and Friday and run in the scrimmage on Saturday. We're kind of starting over on defense and working on some old things."

Spending the majority of the practice in positions groups, the Tigers worked on implementing new things on both sides of the ball with the idea of improving from Saturday's scrimmage. Tuberville said after watching the video from the scrimmage he saw some good things, but not enough for his liking.

"After watching the scrimmage yesterday it was pretty successful in terms of a lot of young guys getting some reps," Tuberville said. "We made some progress, but we've got a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball. We didn't do a whole lot on defense, but we've do a lot more next week to give them a better chance.

"Offensively we had too many balls dropped," he added. "We had seven or eight balls dropped pretty early in the scrimmage. I thought the quarterbacks did pretty good. Overall it was a good day"

The Tigers spent a great deal of time on several areas of special teams on Sunday. Here Walter McFadden returns a kickoff with Tommy Trott leading the way.

The story of Sunday's practice was the presence of defensive end Antonio Coleman for the last few minutes of the workout. Wearing a padded neck collar, Coleman came out of the training room for the final few minutes of practice and to be with the team for prayer before ending the day. Tuberville said it was good to see his defensive end out there after the scare on Saturday.

"He's fine," Tuberville said. "I was elated (by the good news). That's the worst nightmare of any coach or player, but he was getting a lot better on the field. I thought the doctors and trainers and all of the ambulance people did a good job. Most of it was precautionary because any time you have some kind of neck trauma you want to make sure everything is fine. It looked bad and it was bad, but it wasn't as bad as it seemed as he started getting his feeling back. He's in good shape."

There has been a lot of speculation about just what happened to cause Coleman's injury. Tuberville said he and Lee Ziemba were battling throughout the day and unfortunately an injury occurred, but it was something that is just a part of football.

"It was just two guys competing and he got hurt," Tuberville said. "There was no intention on other side. Both of them got after it all day long. You're going to have a lot of competition.

"Anytime somebody gets hurt when you're trying to block them you kind of feel responsible, but there was zero intention of anything. Both guys were competing all day, both were punching each other right and left. That's just football. You just hate something like that happens."

There are several other injuries to report from Sunday as Tuberville said running back Mario Fannin (shoulder), Tim Hawthorne (surgery to repair broken arm), Chris Todd (shoulder) are all heading to Birmingham this week to make sure of their injuries and for Dr. James Andrews to get a better look.

Wide receiver Chris Slaughter was held out of the scrimmage because of a strained hamstring and missed Sunday's practice as did offensive guard Chaz Ramsey because of a sore back. Tristan Davis also missed practice with a bruised foot, but Tuberville said he should be back this week. He added he's hoping to have all but Hawthorne back practicing soon.

The Tigers will return to practice Tuesday morning and will practice Thursday and Friday to get ready That will leave just four practice days to get in before the A-Day Game on March 29. Auburn will take spring break off (March 15-22) before returning to the practice field for final preparations for the spring game.

Tiger Ticket Extra:

*Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin said the offensive staff was very impressed by the play of wide receiver Terrell Zachery in Saturday's scrimmage. A player they were unsure about as a top-flight receiver, Zachery may have helped himself more than any player on Auburn's roster in the first scrimmage.

*Defensively the player that stood out according to defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads was linebacker Josh Bynes. Playing in the middle behind Tray Blackmon, Bynes was in on several plays in the scrimmage and Rhoads said he has a chance to push for playing time although they haven't talked any moving Blackmon should he continue to play well. He added that's a discussion that won't happen until spring is complete.

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