Tigers Make Strides at Football Practice Two

Comments from Gene Chizik, Nick Fairley and DeAngelo Benton are featured following Auburn's second spring football practice.

Auburn, Ala.--On Friday Auburn football coach Gene Chizik said he saw improvement from practice one to two, but noted it is still too early in spring drills to come to many conclusions about how individual players are progressing.

Chizik and the other Auburn coaches will watch their players in full pads for the first time this spring at practice three of the 15 spring workouts on Saturday morning.

"Practice today was fine, but I am looking forward to Saturday when the pads go on," said junior-to-be defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

Commenting on his expectations for his second season at Auburn, "Anything I can do for the team is what I want to do whether it means going out there to play noseguard, tackle or whatever," he said.

"I think I had a good offseason with Coach Yox (Kevin Yoxall) and I have added a few pounds and I am still moving around good," Fairley said. "I feel like I am a little quicker because Coach Yox has gotten me in shape."

Fairley said he believes the Tigers have the potential to be strong on the defensive front this year. "We have seniors like Mike Blanc, Mike Goggans, Antoine Carter and Zach Clayton to lead us. My goal is to make sure I?have their back. It is their last year and I want to do what I can do to make sure they go out on top."

Fairley's position coach, Rocker, said he is expecting more from the lineman this season. "Nick is a great football player," the coach said. "School is important to Nick and that is what I stress with him that school and football are important at Auburn. That is also what Coach Chizik and I told his mother when we went down there (to Mobile to recruit him).

If he can do all of the things we ask him, I feel good about him," Rocker added. "He is trying to do all of the things we ask. Staying focused and doing it everyday is important for Nick and he is trying to do that. There is no doubt we are looking for a big season from him."

The Tigers worked out for 2 1/2 hours on Friday. "I thought the tempo was a little better," Chizik said of Friday's practice, which was dedicated to teaching assignments and the details of defensive and offensive techniques. "I thought the up-tempo practice was really good and it was a good second learning day."

A total of 12 of the 15 practices can be with full pads on according to NCAA rules.

Chizik said his second spring as head coach of the Tigers has a different feel than last year's. "I think there is just an all-around difference," the coach noted. "There is a whole different mentality simply because I don't think there are as many question marks for everybody. For the players trying to figure out the coaches, for the coaches trying to figure out the players, transitions are hard. You spend half your time trying to figure each other out. Those are tough things. Chizik said he is looking for a different and more productive season from Fairley, who is up to 6-5, 315 pounds. "Nick is a very talented young man. I am proud of him because he has done everything we have asked him to do. I expect him to be a much better football player than he was last year. I think Coach (Rocker) Rocker has taught him a lot more football and my expectation for him is very high."

Demond Washington works out at cornerback for the Tigers. He opened the 2009 season at that position, but moved to safety after Zac Etheridge was injured vs. Ole Miss. Washington has returned to cornerback for 2010. News and Notes: Chizik said that although safety Zac Etheridge is going through "baby steps" in limited workouts at practice, the coaching staff is working under the assumption that the senior will be ready to play this fall after suffering a serious neck injury in the Ole Miss game. "I was just praying he was healthy as a person," Chizik said of his expectations for Etheridge. "I wasn't even thinking in terms of football and haven't for a long time. I just wanted to make sure he was a healthy young man. That is it."...Wide receiver DeAngelo Benton, who is up 15 pounds from last year to 205, said he feels quicker, stronger and more confident than he did when he started practice at Auburn last August. "Practice is going really good," he said. "I am glad to get back to it." Commenting on the play from the quarterbacks, the receiver said, "They are all doing great. There is a lot of room for improvement for all of us and as we practice every day we will all get better."...Commenting on newcomer quarterback Cameron Newton, who has a very strong arm, the sophomore-to-be wide receiver said "you have to been on your guard" because of how hard Newton can throw the football.

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