Freeman Expected Back at LB for LSU Game

A report on Auburn's Wednesday night football practice is featured with comments from the head coach plus news and notes.

Auburn, Ala.--Head football coach Gene Chizik said that former starter Eltoro Freeman is expected to see action for Auburn this Saturday night vs. LSU.

Freeman, a first-year Tiger who is a redshirt sophomore after transferring to AU in January from junior college, missed the road trip to Arkansas for what Chizik termed "personal reasons."

Freeman was back with the team last week for Auburn's home game vs. Kentucky, but saw only limited action with the special teams in a game in which the starting three linebackers (Josh Bynes, Craig Stevens and Adam Herring) were not substituted for except when the Tigers went to an extra defensive back in passing situations.

"Eltoro is practicing and running around and he is back in the mix and hopefully we will again get a chance to see him help our team win some games," the coach said.

Chizik put the Tigers through a Wednesday evening workout in shorts, helmets and shoulder pads that lasted almost two hours with an emphasis on correcting mistakes from the Kentucky game and installing the offensive and defensive game plans for the contest against ninth-ranked LSU.

"It was a good practice tonight, really upbeat, and I?thought they were focused in," Chizik said. "It was pretty mistake-free, I thought, and I?thought we were on track to getting better. I?am just really happy so far with the whole week of practice. It will be fun Saturday night."

As has been the case in the first seven games, the Tigers will be playing without 2008 starting safety Mike McNeil, who continues to rehab after suffering a broken bone in his leg this summer. Chizik said, "Redshirting is still on the table. Him and I have had some good conversations. We are going to play it by ear. We are going to play it week by week.

"He is not ready to play this week, obviously, and of course the hour glass has been turned over and we are coming down into the last quarter of the season certainly after this week so we won't rule anything out," Chizik added. "There are possibilities both ways."

Mike McNeil

Chizik noted that it doesn't make sense to put a guy like McNeil on the field if he is 75 or 80 percent of full speed, especially a player at a position like safety where speed is a huge factor in the ability to perform his assignments.

Also after Wednesday night's practice, Chizik had high praise for the LSU, which is 5-1 and ranked ninth nationally this week.

"You can't help but notice how athletic they are everywhere on their team," Chizik said. "It doesn't matter whether you are talking about their secondary, their D line, their wide receivers, their cover teams, their return teams. They have just got a ton of speed and, as you would imagine, just great looking athletes. They play really hard and they are very physical.

In other news:

*Chizik said defensive lineman Zach Clayton, who has been sidelined by an ankle injury, is making progress and may be available for the LSU game, but added that has still not been determined. "He is to the point now where I?think he is getting over the hump working toward being able to play. Will he play this Saturday or not? We will see. That will be day by day as we get closer we will know more, but he is doing more than he has the last couple of weeks."

*Wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor and Chizik said that freshman wide receivers Travante Stallworth, DeAngelo Benton and Anthony Gulley are making progress in practice. Chizik also noted that veteran Tim Hawthorne, who had a 58-yard pass play vs. LSU last season, is making progress, too, after being sidelined early in the year with an injury.

*Saturday's game will kick off shortly after 6:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2 with Mark Jones and Bob Davie calling the action from Tiger Stadium. The game will be carried on Channel 200 on XM Radio.

*LSU is looking to increase its winning streak vs. Auburn to three. The Bayou Bengals lead the series 23-19-1.

*Chizik said that quarterback Chris Todd, who struggled in the past two games, has "done a nice job" in practice this week. "He is fine and getting focused back in."

*Another quarterback, redshirt freshman Barrett Trotter, is making progress on his recovery from knee surgery, but it isn't in the plans to get him ready for game action this season.

*In last year's 26-21 LSU comeback victory at Auburn, running back Charles Scott carried the ball 21 times for 132 yards vs. Auburn. The 6-0, 234-pound senior only has 75 carries for 327 yards with two touchdown runs through six games this year. Last year he carried the football 217 times for 1,174 yards and 18 touchdowns.

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