Chizik Labels Practice As "Pretty Poor"

News, notes and quotes from coaches and players from Auburn's first full pads practice are featured in this report.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's first practice day of the preseason in full pads on Monday evening didn't get a two thumbs up review from the head coach.

Gene Chizik, after watching his Tigers work out for close to three hours, didn't seem to even want to give it a one thumbs up review after really liking his first three practices of the preseason and liking some aspects of practice four on Saturday night.

"I was really hoping it would be a more physical day," the football coach said. "After having kind of an off day yesterday I really felt like today would be a little more high energy. I am disappointed in that."

The practice wasn't a total washout, said Chizik, who noted that he saw some good things happening on Monday, but he added, "Overall I was not pleased with the day so we are going to get that fixed ASAP tomorrow and hopefully we can play with some more energy and have a more physical football team, but right now that was pretty poor."

Chizik and the Auburn coaches will have plenty time to make adjustments because they will practice twice on Tuesday with morning and evening sessions. It is the first of the three days of two-a-days, all that is allowed under NCAA rules.

Quindarius Carr is shown at Monday's practice.

A player whose stock is on the rise, junior wide receiver Quindarius Carr, said he can see progress in the offense in the second year learning offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn's system.

"We are making great strides from where were at the beginning of fall last year compared to now," Carr said. "It is amazing to see how much things have changed and how much hard work we have put in to make a difference. Everything has gone well so far."

Carr, one of the team's fastest players, has a chance to be a major threat for the Tigers on deep passes, according to Malzahn. "He has shown us he can be a threat," Malzahn said. Carr made his first college touchdown catch in Auburn's bowl victory over Northwestern.

Sophomore safety Ikeem Means is upbeat with how preseason drills have started. He won praise from his position coach, Tommy Thigpen, in the spring. The coach noted that the walk-on has a chance to see more playing time this season even though there is more competition for playing with Mike McNeil and Aairon Savage back at safety. Both players missed the entire 2009 season with injuries.

"I am learning both positions, strong and free," Means said. "If one of them gets hurt I want to be the first guy to go in at either position." However, that doesn't mean he is isn't trying to be at the top of the depth chart despite the competition from McNeil, Savage and returning starter Zac Etheridge as well as Drew Cole. "I am basically trying to start, too," Means said.

Even if he sees limited action at safety, Means should get plenty of chances to play. He is working on the punt team and the kickoff and kickoff return teams.

Auburn, which currently has 82 scholarship players on the roster, has room to add three more players on scholarship this year. Means could be a candidate for one, but noted he hasn't heard anything from the coaches on that subject. He works part-time jobs and gets support from his mother back home in Wetumpka to have a chance to attend Auburn.

One of the positives of Monday's practice for Chizik is what he is seeing out of his four true freshmen linebackers--Jessel Curry, Jake Holland, LaDarius Owens and Jawara White.

LaDarius Owens, a freshman linebacker, is shown in his first full pads practice on Monday.

Curry got a head start by graduating from high school early and has won praise from the coach going back to spring training and that has not changed this preseason.

Commenting on the three summer arrivals, Chizik said, "I am really proud of all three of them. I think their heads are swimming a little bit now, there's a lot of new stuff in, and the bottom line is they just have got to absorb it as we go.

But just physically, and how focused and how in-tune they are to what we are trying to do--they all want to play as I have said earlier--that is a great thing. In that regard we are really, really high on those guys.

"They all have a long way to go learn, but they know that and that is the good thing that they know that so they are all trying real hard and they have all shown signs of being able to help our team at some point," Chizik added.

Freshman linebacker Jake Holland goes through a drill with graduate assistant coach Travis Williams, a former Auburn linebacker.

Freshman linebacker Jessel Curry goes through a drill on Monday as defensive coordinator and linebacker coach, Ted Roof, shouts instructions.

In other news:

*Chizik said that sophomore tight end/H-back Philip Lutzenkirchen is making strides this year because he is "physically more ready to play at this level in terms of hand on the ground." Lutzenkirchen is currently 260 pounds, the coach said.

*Juco transfer Joel Bonomolo, the last of the 2010 signees to report, moved at Monday's practice from the power (strongside) defensive end to the quick (weakside) spot. Bonomolo said he is just trying to learn as quickly as possible on the field and noted that he worked out extensively at home over the summer so at 242 pounds he believes he is in good shape.

*Tailback Michael Dyer took a big lick at practice today and said he thought that was fun. He doesn't remember who got him, but he said it was a nice welcome to the physical side of college football.

The freshman said the biggest challenge for him will be mental because of how much there is to learn in Gus Malzahn's system and how fast you have to play.

*Cornerbacks coach Phillip Lolley said after practice tonight he liked the way true freshman Chris Davis and Jonathan Mincy handled themselves. He said based on what he has seen so far from the pair, they are ahead of most of the freshman cornerbacks who have come to Auburn in recent years.

*Backup cornerbacks T'Sharvan Bell and Anthony Morgan are also having a first good week of preseason practice, Lolley pointed out. Demond Washington, a senior, and Neiko Thorpe are the first team corners. Both are returning starters.

*Lolley said if he gets the chance to coach Ryan White, the true freshman from Tallahassee, Fla., who is getting practice time at quarterback, he believes the young player has a chance to be a really good cornerback because of his quickness and feel for how to play the game.

*Jay Boulware said after practice on Monday night there are lot of true freshmen he will be looking at to put on the various special teams, but it is too early to know who they will be. The coach said he likes what he is seeing out of freshman punter Steven Clark. He noted the signee from Kansas City has a really strong leg and has hit punts with hang times of better than 5.0 seconds, but added that Clark has work to do on his mechanics to get the ball into the air more quickly once he gets the snap from center.

*Jake Holland said that the older players have done a good job helping the freshman get adjusted to the team. In his case he noted that fellow middle linebacker, senior Josh Bynes, has been very helpful.


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories