Tigers Hope To Remain Offensive In Spring Practice

Coordinator Hugh Nall, running back Carnell Williams and wide receiver Courtney Taylor talk about getting back on the practice field Tuesday.

Auburn, Ala.--Trying to build on the momentum built late last season when they rang up wins over Alabama and Penn State, the Auburn Tigers returned to the practice field Tuesday for the first of 15 spring workouts leading up to the A-Day game on April 5.

With offensive line Coach Hugh Nall taking over as the coordinator in place of Bobby Petrino and Steve Ensminger in his first day on the job as quarterback coach, there was some adjusting for the players and coaches to do on how they ran their practice on Tuesday. Nall said the day went as expected and he liked what he saw out of the players despite the wet and dreary conditions on the practice field.

"It was a good first day," Nall said. "It gave us some things to look at and make adjustments to. We found out who knows what they are doing and who doesn't. I thought it was a good first day and a good start. I thought the kids were pretty sharp for the most part. Some of the younger guys have a lot to learn, but that's what spring practice is for."

Carnell Williams lines up at tailback during Tuesday's rainy practice.

One of the players happy to be back on the practice field was running back Carnell Williams. Injured in Auburn's loss to Florida last season when he broke a bone in his foot, the junior wasn't full speed on Tuesday, but that didn't stop him from taking part in every phase of the two hour practice.

"Coming off any injury it felt real good to be back out there," the 204-pound Williams said. "To just be with the guys and be in the atmosphere again felt really good. I still have a little ways to go before I truly get back to full speed, but my recovery is coming along well."

Trying to get back to full speed while watching Ronnie Brown, Brandon Jacobs and Tre Smith all take part in practices and get most of the reps, Williams will have plenty of time to think about the battle that will ensue for playing time next fall. Saying he's not concerned about how many times he touches the ball next season, the former Etowah Blue Devil had some interesting things to say about what the competition will do for all the running backs this season and in the future.

"It's going to bring out the best in all of us," Williams said. "Those guys are real competitive and on this level, to me, the better the competition is the better it makes you. It's going to be fun to watch all those guys run next year."

Courtney Taylor catches a pass during Tuesday's practice.

While Williams is a known commodity to the offense, one of the players the coaches are counting on to step up and become a playmaker in the passing game is redshirt freshman Courtney Taylor. A very athletic quarterback coming out of high school, he made the switch to receiver last season, but was behind fellow freshmen Ben Obomanu and Devin Aromashodu when the season began. That meant sitting out last season to learn more about the position. Taylor said the time off was great for him to get a feel for what he needed to do to be a good receiver.

"That was real big for me," Taylor said of redshirting and working with the offense in practice. "I had no idea of how they were going to do things with me. I went with the regular offense and I started learning slow. They put me in there occasionally and let me get a little feel for it against the first team defense. That was one of the main points that helped me out. I'm just looking forward to next season coming up."

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