Even with 6-5, 250 running back Brandon Jacobs making his first appearance in an Auburn uniform the Tigers kept their routine the same by working much of the practice on getting better on both sides of the ball while keeping an eye towards the Penn State Nittany Lions. Splitting time between scout teamwork and one-on-one drills, they had a second good practice since returning from breaks for Thanksgiving and finals.
"I think our players are excited," Petrino said. "They have been working hard. It's good to get back on the field, we are a little rusty. We have to work some of that out of them.
"I think they are taking this very serious. We'll go down there and have some fun but we're going to prepare real hard to win the game."
While he won't be a part of Auburn's game plan for Penn State to keep his junior year from being wasted, there was little question that Jacobs would be the focus of many of the coaches and players on Sunday. Wearing number five to mimic Penn State All-American Larry Johnson, Jacobs got into the action early against the first-team defense and gave them a taste of what he can do. His work on Sunday impressed Petrino who said his first impression was the obvious one.
"He's big," a smiling Petrino said. "He's big and he's got real good movement. Of course he didn't get a lot of work today but it was fun. I think when he carried the ball out there today everyone was watching him. He's a big man and moves real well. It will be fun to see what happens."
Jason Campbell gets out of the pocket on a bootleg during scout team work.
Quarterback Jason Campbell and wide receiver Ben Obomanu had big days on the offensive side of the ball in Sunday's practice. Campbell, continuing to show an increase in confidence and knowledge in the offense, threw the deep ball well and made several nice option runs against the first-team defense. Obomanu caught everything in sight, including a long touchdown catch in one-on-one drills. On the offensive line walk-on Thomas Anderson got some work in drills with the second unit along with center Will Ward and guard Jonathan Palmer.
Defensively Spencer Johnson is as healthy as he's been since early in the season and should be a force for the Tigers against Penn State. Also looking good are linebackers Karlos Dansby and Dontarrious Thomas, both of whom were hampered by injuries late in the season. Defensive end Reggie Torbor appeared to be back to his explosive play in pass rush drills by beating true freshman tackle Marcus McNeill, the only player to do that in Sunday's practice.
Karlos Dansby (11) and Kevin Sears (47) warming up before Sunday's practice.
"This week we have to be real patient and work hard and understand that it's a work week," Petrino said. "We're kind of taking it back to the basics and technique. Then as we get closer and closer to the game we'll get that game week preparation."
After having time to watch film from Penn State over the weekend Petrino said he is very impressed with what he saw. Facing a team built around an experienced and talented defensive front, Petrino said a big challenge awaits his unit on New Year's Day.
"It's going good," Petrino said of Auburn's preparations for Penn State. "They are a well-coached defense. They are very sound. They play hard and they are big. It will be a good challenge for us. They are not necessarily as fast as some of the teams we have played but they don't make mistakes. It's going to make us challenge ourselves not to make any mistakes and be patient. We're going to have to be real patient and continue to run the ball at them and make some big plays. They are a good defense."
Auburn will practice each morning this week before breaking up for the Christmas break after Friday's practice. Each day is scheduled to begin at 10:15 a.m. and will last for around two hours. The team will report to Orlando Christmas night to begin game week preparations for Penn State. Tiger Ticket Extra:
While Jacobs was on the field, his junior college teammate and new Tiger Tony McClain missed Sunday's practice while waiting on the results of his physical from Saturday. With some questions remaining the coaches decided to wait until Monday to begin his practices...Two special visitors watched Auburn's practice intently Sunday as defensive end Stanley McClover from Dillard (Fla.) High and athlete Antonio Cromartie from Lincoln High in Tallahassee , Fla. both walked around and took in the sights while on official visits. After arriving Saturday afternoon they will remain in Auburn until Monday morning before returning home. ..One player that stood out in Sunday's practice on the defensive line was Ben Grubbs. Moved inside to tackle because of his size (278 pounds) and strength, Grubbs beat his man several times in pass rush drills and should be a big help inside to the Tigers in the years to come…