Tuberville Ready for Practices in Pads

Coaches Tommy Tuberville and Greg Knox comment on Sunday's second preseason practice for the Auburn Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--The second day of preseason football practice for the Auburn Tigers took place on a muggy Sunday on the Plains and it the story of the day wasn't who looked good on the field, but rather who wasn't in attendance.

Missing much of Saturday's practice, freshman safety DeRon Furr was a no-show on Sunday, leaving his future with the team in doubt. Coach Tommy Tuberville said after the two-hour workout that he's not sure what's going on with the former quarterback.

"I don't know," Tuberville said. "I haven't seen him."

Practicing for the second day in shorts and helmets, Tuberville said it was another good day for his team as they get closer to full pad workouts beginning on Wednesday and the first scrimmage on Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium. He noted that his team is getting anxious to have some contact and they'll get to have some beginning on Monday when the shoulder pads go on.

"We had a rain delay today, but we got most of it in," Tuberville said. "We cut our kicking out. Tomorrow we'll put on shoulder pads and go with it. You can tell guys are anxious to hit somebody. It was a pretty good day considering you couldn't do anything but run plays and teach steps."

Freshman Christian Thompson claps his hands in disgust after missing an interception. Zac Etheridge had the only pick of the day on a tipped pass from Kodi Burns.

Without pads on the focus of Sunday's practice was again on fundamentals and the passing game. Because of that Tuberville said he's gotten a good chance to watch the quarterbacks and receivers in action and so far he likes what he's seen out of the group.

"I have been watching mostly the backs and receivers," Tuberville said. "They don't do much more than that even with pads on. We'll start watching the line of scrimmage tomorrow.

"Kodi (Kodi Burns) is throwing the ball much better than he did last year," he added. "He's much improved. It's going to be a good battle there. That's good. Both guys are helping each other out. Neil Caudle is throwing the ball well. It's fun to watch them with no shoulder pads on, but the pressure starts tomorrow. We'll start watching a little bit different attitude knowing guys are coming at them pretty good."

Safety Mike McNeil defends a pass thrown to Tommy Trott.

On the defensive side of the ball several young players and a few veterans looked good on Sunday. From the freshman group both Christian Thompson and Marcus Jemison made some nice plays as did Harry Adams and D'Antoine Hood on the outside. Cornerback Aairon Savage had a dominating day and looks to be giving Walter McFadden all he can handle for the starting job.

"Christian Thompson is looking real good," Tuberville said. "He covers a lot of ground. He was a state champion last year and he was the guy on defense that made it work for St. Thomas. He's really the only guy I've watched much from the younger guys. We'll start watching them more tomorrow."

The Tigers will watch video on Monday morning before returning to the practice field in the afternoon for a 4:45 practice.

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One of the most interesting positions to watch on offense is at the outside receiver position. Rod Smith and James Swinton are listed as the starters going into the preseason, but several players could make a serious run at a starting job before the Tigers take on Louisiana-Monroe on Aug. 30. Mario Fannin, Montez Billings and Chris Slaughter all made plays on Sunday with Slaughter's a grab high above the defender in the end zone during 7-on-7 drills. Coach Greg Knox said so far he's been pleased with how his guys have competed.

"We're working hard," Knox said. "A lot of things have been thrown at them as far as plays, but they are working hard. They are pushing through it. It's hot out here but I think we're getting a lot accomplished.

"The carry over has been good," he added. "It's more just being able to push through being exhausted and still get a good technique rep right now. That's what I'm talking with them about daily is being able to push through it when you get tired. It's a lot of mental work but the kids are doing what we ask them to."

On the subject of Fannin, Knox said that so far the former high school quarterback and running back at Auburn has looked good on the outside. "He's doing good," Knox said. "It's a learning process for him because it's his first time out there and he wasn't out there in the spring. He busted a few assignments but he's learning. Every day is a new experience for him but he's doing well."


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