Checking In With Chizik

Auburn's head football coach discusses his assistant coaches and other subjects.

Auburn, Ala.--With his full on-the-field coaching staff finally hired and spring practice more than a month away, Gene Chizik says this is still a busy time for the Auburn football.

Auburn's new head coach says his new staff is doing "a lot of getting on the same page" with each other and their new football team.

"There is so much going on now, a lot of moving parts right now," Chizik says. "You are trying to install your offense and your defense with your coaches first and then obviously we will go to the players next and install it with them."

Chizik took over as head coach in December and completed his staff on Sunday by hiring Tommy Thigpen and Phillip Lolley to coach the secondary.

"The next five weeks are going to be us getting on the same page on how we are teaching things, how we are wording things and how we are coaching things and again, making sure we are starting to get relationships with our players," Chizik points out. "We still need to work in that direction.

"With us hiring Phillip, obviously he has relationships with these guys already--he knows them all. With Tommy just getting here you can just imagine these guys are trying to figure out who their coach is going to be.

"We have got a lot of work to do, but mainly for us as coaches right now it is getting on the same page as it comes to football, getting on the same page in regard to recruiting and dividing up everybody's areas."

Chizik notes that the staff is still working on figuring out who will recruit what territory, but virtually everybody on the staff will have in-state responsibilities.

The coach says it is still to be determined how Lolley and Thigpen will divide the secondary coaching assignments. "Obviously, what we will probably do is one of them will be the safeties coach, one will be the corners coach, but we just feel like back there, and I have always felt this way, the more the merrier.

"It is probably the most difficult place to coach defensively so you have got make sure you have two sets of eyes and a lot of attention to detail," adds Chizik, who notes that defensive coordinator Ted Roof will work out the details on how the defensive staff functions with input from the head coach. On game days, Roof will call the coverages for the secondary.

Chizik says he is pleased with his final two on-the-field staff hires. "I have got a lot of confidence in Phillip. I know he is not only a really solid recruiter, he is really a great football coach, too."

Lolley helped Chizik recruit while the rest of the staff was being hired. His former title was Director of NFL Relations, but he has experience coaching linebackers and defensive backs at Auburn during his decade at Auburn.

Thigpen, who was also hired this week, comes to Auburn from North Carolina where he coached the linebackers. He has also coached defensive backs.

"I followed Tommy's career a long time," Chizik says. "Believe or not, when I was back at Clemson when I first got into college coaching, he was a player at North Carolina. We recruited him actually so I had great knowledge of Tommy when he was coming out of high school and just followed his career. He has done a great job."

Commenting on his reception on his return to Auburn where he was defensive coordinator from 2002-2004, Chizik says, "Everything has been great. We are so busy and we hit the ground running we really haven't stopped yet. I know that I haven't had time to observe the whole outside world at this point--probably won't for a while--but everything has been great."


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