Tigers Work on the Run in Thursday Practice

A report on Thursday's practice features comments from coaches and players.

Auburn, Ala.--In Auburn's final full contact practice prior to Saturday's spring football game, the Tigers spent a good part of the two-hour Thursday session working on the running attack with three scholarship tailbacks on the field.

Although Tristan Davis was held out of the contact portion of the drills, the speedy senior running back took part in the session along with Brad Lester, who has been the ironman of spring drills, and Ben Tate, who returned to practice on Tuesday after being cleared to go after being sidelined by a hamstring problem.

Davis says he is expecting to get a protective shell for his shoe on his bruised foot so he can participate in the A-Day Game that will kick off at 1 p.m. on Saturday. "If everything else goes well in the next couple of days I am shooting for Saturday," says Davis, who broke bones in his sore foot twice last year and had it stepped on in practice earlier this spring.

The backfield also had a different look at times on Thursday when a pair of linemen were used as blocking backs. Mike Berry, who has played center and tackle this spring, worked as fullback in a Power-I formation as did guard Jackson Timmerman, a junior walk-on. Tight end Gabe McKenzie also lined up at fullback.

"I was shocked when I came to practice and they told me I was going to be a blocking fullback in our new set today, but I was excited to do it," Berry says. "I haven't done it before, but am I happy for the opportunity."

The redshirt sophomore says he is seeing progress from the offense with 12 of 15 practices completed this spring. "We are getting the tempo down and that is the main thing with this fast-paced offense," he says.

Mike Berry (66) lines up at fullback on Thursday, the fourth position he has played for the Tigers.

Auburn's head coach gave Thursday's workout mixed reviews. "This was basically our last fundamental technique practice and we need a lot more," Tommy Tuberville says. "It wasn't the best practice that we have had. We lost our concentration about the last 30 or 40 minutes. It was pretty long, but it was a little bit better than it was on Tuesday.

"Tomorrow (Friday) we will polish with shorts and helmets," he adds.

Tuberville says the Tigers plan to throw the ball a great deal in the spring game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. "We will try to keep our backs a little bit healthier and get some guys back, but we still have got a lot to do to evaluate our quarterbacks, receivers, defensive backs and our linebackers on Saturday."

The AU head coach says, "Our leadership is becoming a little bit better, but we kind of lost our concentration and when you do that everything kind of goes downhill. We had a good little scrimmage there at the end--about a 20-play goal line scrimmage. The defense won some, the offense finally won one right there at the end."

Tuberville says that linemen Ryan Pugh and Jason Bosley are proven leaders on offense and that QB Chris Todd is showing signs of becoming one, too. "We have a lot of good leaders on defense," he says.

In other news:

*On Wednesday it was announced that Tuberville will join a group of five college football coaches to visit American troops on duty in the Middle East. "They called about two months ago and they have been trying to put this together," he says. "I feel everybody should do their part. I don't know whether it will help at all, but going over and going to hospitals and bases, I think it will be a unique trip for all of us. I don't know if they will get anything out of it, but I think it will help us in terms of understanding about what's going on."

*Wide receiver Montez Billings caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Chris Todd in the 11 on 11 work as cornerback Walter McFadden jumped the pass route that he thought was going to be a short pass into the flat and had no chance to catch the speedy Billings.

James Swinton makes a catch on Thursday. The senior has improved this spring, AU coaches note.

*Tuberville says that defensive end Antonio Coleman, who has a cervical sprain, "is fine" but will be held out of the rest of contact drills this spring. He worked out on Thursday in full pads by himself with the team trainers.

*In Coleman's absence, Antoine Carter has been working with the first team and continues to have a strong spring rushing the passer. He did it again in Thursday's 11 on 11 work.

*Tuberville says that redshirt sophomore Terrell Zachery has made progress this spring. "He has shown signs of being a good receiver," the coach notes. "He is a guy who can catch the ball every time you throw it at him. He is getting more confidence."

*Reserve offensive lineman Lee Tilley missed practice to work on academics, Tuberville says.

*Tommy Trott caught at TD pass in the 11 on 11 work from Todd.

*The Tigers will have a half scrimmage on Wednesday that will wrap up spring drills.

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