Wounded Tigers Back on the Practice Field

A report, including video comments from Tommy Tuberville, is featured covering Auburn's Tuesday football practice.

Auburn, Ala.--The regular crew was back together again on the offensive front on Tuesday as the Tigers had their one practice of the day in the rain.

Senior Jason Bosley, Auburn's number one center, was back in the middle after being out since last week with a strained back. That enabled the number two option at center, starting right tackle Ryan Pugh, to move back outside.

Tommy Tuberville post-practice comments on video:

2008 8-12 Tuberville

The rest of the first team group features Tyronne Green and Byron Isom at guard and Lee Ziemba at left tackle.

The second offensive line group on Tuesday included walk-on Clay Clark at center with guards Jared Cooper and Bart Eddins plus Mike Berry and Andrew McCain at tackles. AU's second option at center for a game situation is Pugh and the third option would be either Berry or Green.

Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin says it is good to see Bosley, a returning starter, back on the field. "It is a lot for leadership and it helps getting Pugh back getting reps at tackle, too. It's big. Your center on this team plays a huge role so it's good to have him back."

The quarterbacks got practice throwing wet footballs on Tuesday.

The quarterback competition between Kodi Burns and Chris Todd has been like a great heavyweight boxing match, Franklin says. The coordinator notes he isn't sure who will start or when the coaching staff will be ready to name a starter, but continues to give signals both QBs will play.

"One guys lands what you think is a great knockout blow and the other guy falls against the ropes and then five seconds he lands a blow that you think is going to knock the other one out," Franklin says. "It happens every day where one guy will make an incredible throw that blows your mind and the other will walk in and trump it. That is phenomenal because it shows that they are both competitors.

"Neither one withers from the competition--they step up to it," he adds. "I think that again, like I have said many times, the long this thing progresses the more it becomes such a wonderful problem because they have both risen to the occasion, they have both gotten better and I am very tickled with how they have both played."

Franklin notes he was "fairly pleased" with the first scrimmage of preseason held at the stadium on Saturday. "We had good tempo as the scrimmage progressed. Early on, we didn't have real good tempo because we are a little slower out here than we normally will be trying to get through two-a-days and trying to make sure the defense is able to accomplish what they need to accomplish so Saturday took us a while to get our tempo the way we wanted it."

Former Auburn head football coach Pat Dye watches practice as he checks out coach Terry Price's defensive ends.

Franklin says he is pleased with the improvement of the wide receiver group noting they good enough "to win in this league."

Franklin wasn't overly impressed with Chris Slaughter in the spring, but that is changing since preseason starts opened. "From the day we started, the first practice that we had, he was like a different person," the coach says. "I keep waiting for it to fall off and it hasn't. That has been probably be the most pleasant surprise.

"Gabe McKenzie has been another pleasant surprise," Franklin says of the junior tight end. "Gabe has had very drops, if any, in competition and that has been very pleasant. His routes are still not as crisp as they need to be, but he has stepped up and shown more promise."

Also making a return to practice on Tuesday was freshman cornerback Harry Adams, who left practice in an ambulance on Sunday after vomiting blood following a collision in a team drill that day. He suffered bruised lungs. "It scared me at the time, but I am going to be fine," the freshman from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., says.

"I tried to get out there in some of the drills, but they (team doctor and trainer) wouldn't let me do it, but I should be back out there tomorrow (Wednesday)."

In fact, Adams tried to sneak into a tackling drill after joining the defensive backs about 20 minutes after practice started in a steady rain. Defensive coordinator and secondary coach Paul Rhoads stopped the freshman just before his rep started. "Hey, you aren't cleared for contact yet are you?" the coach asked the freshman. When Adams admitted that was the case, Rhoads smiled and said, "I love your attitude, but today you are going to have to watch."

Adams, who says he is currently 6-0, 184 pounds, played wide receiver at Dillard High and notes he only saw action for two plays at cornerback prior to arriving at Auburn. "I am getting used to everything and I am learning the coverages so I think I am going to be alright at cornerback," he says. "I am little surprised at how I have picked it up. I watch the older guys how they play and I watch the pros, too."

In other news from Tuesday's practice.

*Rhoads says he saw both "good and bad" in the weekend scrimmage. "We certainly learned we have a lot of work to do on our tackling--we have to tackle better. Our assignment knowledge was about where I expected it to be at that point and has increased since then."

*Much of the practice was devoted to teaching individual skills with a heavy emphasis on tackling for the defensive backs.

*Head coach Tommy Tuberville says the Tuesday practice was a good one with more 11 on 11 work than in many other practices, a trend that will continue and increase. He notes it was good for the QBs to get practice throwing the football in the rain.

*Freshmen running back Eric Smith, wide receiver Philip Pierre-Louis and wide receiver Darvin Adams will likely avoid redshirts, Franklin says. The coordinator says that wide receiver Derek Winter could play, too.

*Tuberville noted he was not concerned after practice about a fight between offensive tackle Pugh and defensive end Antonio Coleman during a one-on-one drill. "I hope they are in a foul mood every day," Tuberville says. "That is what football is all about."

*Tuberville also points out that he is pleased with the lack of injuries so far in practice. The only players who have suffered serious injuries are cornerback Aairon Savage (torn ACL, out for the season) and freshman safety Marcus Jemison (cracked bone in his leg, out for the season). Jemison was expected to redshirt prior to the injury.

*The Tigers are scheduled to practice twice on Wednesday with the morning scheduled tentatively set to start at 8:15 and the second one at 4:15, however, practice times have been subject to change with no classes in session.

*Defensive lineman Zach Clayton, who has been having his best stretch of practice, was impressive in the one-on-one drills vs. the offensive line on Tuesday.

*The Tigers worked on kickoffs again with a large variety of different front-line players working on returns and coverage.

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