Tigers Winding Down On Campus Work

Coach Gene Chizik talks about Monday's practice, preparations for the Outback Bowl, and updates the status of fullbacks John Douglas and Jason King.

Auburn, Ala.--With just one practice remaining before Christmas break, the Auburn Tigers continued preparations for the Outback Bowl game against Northwestern with a two-hour practice on Monday afternoon in full pads. Focusing on the gameplan for the Wildcats while also working the young guys to get them extra work, Coach Gene Chizik said balancing that is the toughest part of the bowl practices for his Tigers in his first season on the Plains.

"There's a fine line for us being able to work these guys how much we want to," Chizik said. "There's not a whole lot of them. You've got to really concentrate on a lot of individual work being able to do some teamwork at the end. We've got to be smart how we do it too.

"I thought it was a good practice," Chizik added. "I think the focus is remaining where we need it to be. I think everybody is looking forward to a break soon. Tomorrow will be our last day. We were full pads again today and went against each other a little bit. Tomorrow won't be quite as much. Then we'll resume when we get to Tampa. All told I thought we had a good day today."

With not much depth to speak of especially on defense, the young Tigers have spent some time getting a head start on spring practice. Chizik said that may continue some in Tampa even though the focus will be on winning the game.

"We've done a lot of work with them," Chizik said. "Tonight at the end we did some scrimmage things with the young guys and tried to get them some reps in there. Don't know that we'll necessarily be able to do that every day down there. We anticipate possibly doing it once, but we'll continue to work those guys even through practice."

John Douglas

While the Tigers have just one practice remaining before breaking for Christmas following a Monday afternoon workout, the news of the day came from off the field as it was learned that sophomore fullback John Douglas and walk-on reserve Jason King were both arrested for DUI in this month. Chizik said that both have been suspended from the team for the bowl game.

"Right now they will not be making the bowl trip," Chizik said. "Without going into detail about the circumstances, they have been suspended from our football team. They will not be on the trip."

Already without sophomore fullback Eric Smith for the bowl game because of an academic suspension, the loss of Douglas makes it an even more dicey situation for the Tigers on offense at that position. The good thing is that in Gus Malzahn's system there are several different formations and the use of a fullback can we minimal in some plans.

With recruiting entering a dead period at midnight Sunday night, the Auburn coaches will get to spend a little down time for the first time in several months on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Chizik said while it's down time they still plan on working to finish off what is already a promising class for 2010.

"I think we're sitting about as good as we could be sitting with most of the guys we have out there," Chizik said. "It's a period of time where they get a little break from all this. We're going to continue to recruit them hard within the rules with our one phone call a week. It comes at the right time probably for them. We're going to continue to recruit them the best way we can. We feel good about where we're at."

The Tigers will practice Tuesday morning before taking Wednesday-Friday off. The team will report to Tampa Dec. 26 and practice at the University of Tampa leading up to the New Year's Day game against Northwestern.


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