Part 3, Auburn Sunday Football Practice Notes

Auburn, Ala.--Additional notes from Auburn's Sunday football practice are featured.

*Senior linebacker Merrill Johnson said that he and Chris Evans are "interchangeable" at weakside linebacker and notes that their competition is very friendly. Linebacker coach James Willis predicts that both will see extensive action.

*Commenting on new defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads, Johnson says that his style as a coach is that he is a "teacher." Jerraud Powers, a junior cornerback, also used the word "teacher" to describe Rhoads.

*Commenting on how the overall defense is doing with game week here, Powers says the defense is "all on the same page now" and ready for the opener vs. the Warhawks of Louisiana-Monroe.

*Powers notes that the freshman cornerbacks will "have to play" early. That group includes D'Antoine Hood and Neiko Thorpe, who are the most likely to see action in game one. Another freshman cornerback, Harry Adams, is expected to play on special teams, but it is not certain he will play at corner. Powers adds that the newcomers have the talent to play in the SEC so the key to their success is learning the mental part of the game.

*Mario Fannin said the most difficult adjustment moving from tailback to wide receiver this season is learning the pass routes. He notes that he is playing the outside receiver spots, the slot receiver position and is at times lining up at running back.

*Fannin, a redshirt sophomore, says with Tony Franklin's offensive system that "everyone has a chance to be a star in this offense."

*Junior Gabe McKenzie says that his biggest adjustment learning how to play defensive end is learning the proper stance after making the move from tight end last week. McKenzie notes he is quite willing to play both ways. "I told the coaches on offense if you need me come get me," McKenzie says.

*Junior running back Ben Tate says the offense is "still coming together," but overall he believes the Tigers are ready to play a game on Saturday. Commenting on what he thinks his role will be this year, he says, "I will do whatever I need to do to help the team win." Commenting on what the most important thing for the running backs to do this year, he says staying healthy is the key. He notes that the Tigers need to get Tristan Davis healthy again to bolster the depth at tailback.

*Last year Tate rushed for 906 yards. Asked if reaching 1,000 this year is a goal, he said yes. Asked if it is possible for one of the running backs to get a 1,000 yards rushing in the new offense, Tate says not only is that possible, he thinks it is possible that two running backs could rush for that many yards.

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