"I think the kids really enjoyed being back at home," Willis said. "It always makes that last day of practice on the intramural fields a lot better when they know it's the last one. Now they get a chance to come back home and practice on their fields and get ready for game week tempo."
In his first preseason with the Tigers, freshman Drew Cole is used to change. Coming in as a cornerback, Cole has moved to safety for the Tigers and said the transition is going well. Friday morning he and the entire team made the move back to the regular practice field and it's something Cole said gave him a different feel.
"It was like starting over," Cole said. "I'm learning stuff and slowly picking it up. I think it's going all right.
"It was a little bit of a different atmosphere," he added. "It wasn't a lot different though because everybody is tired. Everybody is banged up a little bit. It did seem like it changed the monotony of the practice. I think the atmosphere was better."
Working on things that will be used in the second scrimmage coming up Saturday, Auburn got plenty of work in team situations on both sides of the ball Friday morning. That included a little extra work for the wide receivers, who were kept late by offensive coordinator Tony Franklin after having an off day.
Big 6-3 Darvin Adams has been impressive in his first camp with the Auburn Tigers.
One of the players making a move for playing time at the position is true freshman Darvin Adams. Currently third behind Robert Dunn and Terrell Zachery inside, Adams said he's holding up well in his first preseason camp and is looking forward to his second chance to impress the coaching staff.
"Right now I think I'm doing good," Adams said. "I'm taking on the plays pretty well. Robert Dunn and Terrell Zachery are showing me the way. They are teaching me the routes and the correct reads for coverages and what route to run on certain coverages. I think I'm holding up pretty good right now.
"I think it's really big," he added of the second scrimmage. "I think if I go out and show what I can do then the coaches can rely on me and definitely put me in the game."
Compared to last season when he got down to the bare bones at the position, Willis is loaded heading into 2008 with a solid two-deep at the moment. Currently Craig Stevens, Tray Blackmon and Chris Evans/Merrill Johnson are the starters for Willis with Courtney Harden, Josh Bynes and Adam Herring behind them. Willis said true freshman Spencer Pybus is also making a run, but he hopes they'll be able to redshirt him provided everyone else takes care of business.
"It would definitely be a good thing if we can," Willis said. "I don't know if we'll have to or we won't have to. Right now I think everybody is right on schedule the way they're improving their technique and picking up the defense. Right now it's really a good problem to have. I have a lot of good choices as far as who is going to play and who is getting the reps."
The reps are something that many have talked about as being a key for Auburn's offense, but it's also a positive for the defense as well. With so many young guys on the defensive side of the ball, Willis said the chance to rep as many times each day as they have is a huge plus in his mind.
"You get more reps and guys get more looks," Willis said. "The speed of the game, it's not like a regular offense. It is speed on the field. Our guys get to really practice open field tackling and understand the calls and the whole tempo and speed of the game. It has been tremendous for us."
Perhaps the biggest question about the offense in its relation to Auburn's defense is how would the spread affect the toughness of the defense. Without facing a true I formation running team in practice would the Tigers be physical enough? Willis said that question has been answered.
"A lot of people say it and a lot of people talk it," Willis said. "Trust me we always wondered that ourselves, but trust me we get so much in practice as far as being physical. We hit a lot. If we don't get it in team we get it in individual. We're going to be physical and we're going to be tough."
Saturday morning the Tigers will have the second scrimmage of the preseason beginning at 10 a.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The scrimmage is closed to the public. For Willis he said it's a chance to see how his guys have progressed and who could possibly make a move heading into game week.
"I think so," Willis said when asked if the scrimmage could have an impact on his rotation. "It always does. The kids always practice, but you like to see what they do in a game time situation."