Healthy Ziemba Excited About Spring

Offensive tackle Lee Ziemba talks about spring practice and updates his health.

Auburn, Ala.--For Lee Ziemba, the 2009 spring football practice is a time for rebirth. After a fantastic true freshman season playing right tackle for the Tigers, Ziemba struggled with knee problems last season as the Tigers limped home with a 5-7 record. Now healthy and stronger than ever, he says he's excited about the new direction of the Auburn program.

"I can't explain it," Ziemba says. "I feel like my old self again. I was moving better. I wasn't limping back to the huddle. I feel like my old self."

Having knee surgery following last season to clean up some of the problems, Ziemba had the change the way he worked out in the offseason under the direction of coach Kevin Yoxall. Because of that he says in the long run the injury may have been one of the best things that could happen to him in the long run.

"Coach Yox limited me with the lower body," Ziemba says. "I got to focus a lot on my upper body strength. I did a good job of improving that. It will continue to improve because we're still lifting three days a week. I guess in some ways getting hurt was a blessing because I got to work on my upper body. I followed coach Walker's and coach Yox's nutrition program and I put 25 pounds on. I feel good out there. I feel mobile and more physical than I ever have."

With the first two practice days in shorts and helmets, it's tough for the offensive and defensive linemen to get a true feel for what they'll be doing under the new coaching staff. Because there is very little physical work, Ziemba says the focus has been on intensity and execution.

"I think it's fun," Ziemba says. "We were all trying to do everything right. The team was focused. We're trying to do everything we've been coached to do up to this point. We're trying to listen. I think we were pretty much like sponges out there. It's early and not everything was perfect, but we're hoping to improve as spring goes on."

Under the direction of first-year offensive line coach Jeff Grimes, the offensive line is one of the question marks in the spring after the struggles on offense last season. Ziemba says one of the things he believes will help the group is having a coach like Grimes to lead them on the field.

"Coach Grimes is a true teacher," Ziemba says. "He'll get on you when you're not doing something he asks, but he'll always tell you what he expects of you. He'll always lay that out there for you so you don't have to guess. It's all out there and you know what to expect walking out there. You perform, and if you don't he'll get on you. He continues to teach and guide you in the right direction. It's a great experience."

With a new offensive system from coordinator Gus Malzahn to implement in the spring, there is plenty of learning to be done by all members of the offense. While the offense may seem like a spread and have people wondering what the differences are from last season, Ziemba says from an offensive line standpoint it's night and day from the Tony Franklin offense of 2008. That's something he's very happy to see.

"I love it," Ziemba says. "It's a high-speed game with all the advantages of playing in a no-huddle offense, plus the physicality of a Power-I offense. We're a two-back, play-action team. It's a lot of fun. It's smash mouth football played extremely fast. I love it."

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