Avoiding Mistakes Practice Theme for Tigers

Comments from Auburn players and coaches are featured as the Tigers returned to the practice field.

Auburn, Ala.--Gene Chizik put his team through a two-hour practice in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets on Wednesday evening after three days off from workouts and the Auburn head coach said he liked what he saw as the Tigers prepared for next week's game vs. Alabama.

"I thought it was focused and having a little time off they had a little pep in their step," he said.

Chizik said the Tigers made too many mistakes to win last Saturday night at Georgia where they dropped a 31-24 decision. "We are trying to clean some things up from last week and obviously prepare for a great Alabama team."

Alabama, which is unbeaten after 10 games, will play at home this Saturday vs. I-AA foe UT-Chattanooga while Auburn rests.

Chizik said he was "very disappointed with the penalties" the Tigers had on offense vs. Georgia. "Those are undisciplined things we have to get better at. We can't go into any game against any good football and have as many penalties as we had and expect to win. That was evident in the last drive. There were a couple of penalties that really put us in a bad situations so that is disappointing, too.

"The execution of the offense, at times, has been really good, but I think the consistency overall is what has been somewhat disappointing," Chizik added.

The coach said the lack of consistency has been an issue on defense and special teams, too. "That has what has been disappointing, at times," he noted.

Senior cornerback Walt McFadden said he could tell the Tigers had taken what he saw was a much-needed break after going 11 straight games without an off-week.

"We needed a couple of days off and we enjoyed it,"?he said. "The team got together and played video games and had a little cookout. We are trying to have a team bond. It was good to have a couple of days off to rest and get our mind off football before we go back hard to get ready for Alabama."

Commenting on Wednesday's practice, the senior said, "We just worked on the basic stuff--fundamentals, making sure everybody gets in the right alignment, being in the right spot and having our eyes in the right place."

Walt McFadden

Freshman running back Onterio McCalebb said the Tigers had a good session. "On offense we worked on correcting mistakes from the Georgia game. I?thought it was a good practice."

McCalebb said he is making progress on recovering from his ankle problem and said he the three days off from practice helped it as he tries to get back to as close to full speed as possible when the Tigers take on the visiting Alabama Crimson Tide a week from Friday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The Tigers worked without starting linebacker Eltoro Freeman, who was injured in the Georgia game on Saturday night. Chizik said that the sophomore, who suffered a concussion and hurt his foot vs. the Bulldogs, is "day to day" and did not given any indication on when Freeman would be cleared to practice.

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said that Alabama has a strong defense that will offer a major challenge for the Tigers. "If you are competitive at all, whether a coach or a player, you always want to rise up to a challenge. This is a big game, obviously, and our coaches and players will compete the best they can to be successful."

In other news and notes:

*Auburn quarterback Chris Todd, who did not play in last year's Auburn vs. Alabama game, said that he is impressed with what he has seen on video of the Crimson Tide's defense. "They have got athletes across the board," said Todd who added that the Tide is "very well coached and they bring different looks."

Todd said that his team needed the time off it had earlier this week. "We have had a long season and are beat up," he said.

*The Tigers will practice again on Thursday and on Friday morning before taking Saturday off.

*Chizik, who has coached in three Auburn vs. Alabama games as a defensive coordinator, said the game is like other rivalries. "The beginning is probably as intense as you can get, but as the quarters wear on it is about execution. You can't play a whole game with that high and that emotion."

*Chizik had praise for Demond Washington on Wednesday calling the junior a "great competitor." Washington is starting at safety, playing cornerback in nickel packages and is also returning kickoffs and punts. "He just wants to be on the field--he doesn't care where," said Chizik, who noted that he believes the juco transfer has done a great job in his first season at Auburn. "I think he has really come on for our team."


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