Busy Tigers Prepare for First Scrimmage

Notes and quotes from players and coaches are featured from Auburn's Tuesday night football practice.

Auburn, Ala.--Gene Chizik liked part one of Auburn's first two-a-days practice of the preseason on Tuesday and assistant head coach Trooper Taylor said the night session went well, too.

"It was good, guys were kind of chomping at the bit and I think they were paying attention to the little details," Taylor said. "We had guys sprinting on and off the field. If a guy isn't lined up properly in his right spot they are doing up-downs, every little thing to make sure they are taking care of their business as far as alignment, assignment and effort is concerned."

The evening session was the final tuneup before the first preseason scrimmage that will take place on Wednesday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium where the Tigers will play the first of eight home games on Sept. 4th vs. Arkansas State.

Taylor said he could see the excitement in the team about the upcoming scrimmage. "There is something about walking into that stadium and playing between those lines and we are establishing a tradition with the team that we are going to take care of home. That is what we want to make sure they understand."

The coach said having eight home games is a huge bonus if the team is prepared to take advantage of the schedule.

Taylor, who coaches wide receivers, singled out one of his players for his performance in the 11 on 11 work on Tuesday night.

"I have been really proud of Kodi Burns," the coach said. "He made an unbelievable catch today. Cameron (Newton) threw the ball down the middle and Josh Bynes was matched up with him and to be honest I?thought he had no chance, but he came down with the football about 60 yards deep. It was a beautiful throw and catch, on time, and it sparked the offense. And that is what it takes.

Kodi Burns

"You have got to have guys on the perimeter to get this offense going and we have to make plays," the coach said. "I think two balls hit the ground today and that made me feel really good. One was on a bubble and the other was a guy who is really down the line dropped the ball."

Taylor said that his receivers are getting challenged by cornerbacks Demond Washington and Neiko Thorpe. Both are returning starters.

Taylor said he has been impressed with Auburn's highly-regarded new class of freshmen. "These freshmen have come in and added depth. We look like a football team size-wise, speed-wise. This class is loaded with speed."

The assistant head coach said that the newcomers have a lot to learn, but he has been pleased with how much help they are getting from the veteran players to make that adjustment easier.

Jake Holland is one of the four true freshmen linebackers trying to break into the playing rotation this year.

"I am working on my fundamentals--tackling, footwork, trying to get to the ball fast and pass coverage. I am trying to refine all of my skills now."

Holland, a 6-1, 235-pounder, is working in the middle as an understudy to senior Josh Bynes, a returning starter. "He has actually helped me a lot," Holland said. "We have had meetings one on one."

Jake Holland

The Tigers were extremely short on depth at linebacker last year so there is a great opportunity for Holland and fellow freshmen Jawara White, LaDarius Owens and Jessel Curry to see playing time this season.

Asked if Chizik has given Holland and the other freshmen encouragement that they could play early this season, he said, "Definitely."

Holland is part of a highly-regarded freshman class that is building a good bond, he pointed out. "We are real close. We all live in the same dorm and that is always good."

The transition to playing college football is a challenge, even for an Under Armour All-American like Holland. "There is a lot to learn,"?he said. "There is a lot of stuff to study. At the mike linebacker position you have to learn all three linebacker positions."

Holland also noted that as the middle linebacker he needs to know where all players on defense are supposed to be for every formation the offense runs.

Working out during a heat wave, including two practices on Tuesday, Holland and his teammates have been warned to be diligent about taking care of themselves physically by drinking plenty of fluids and to get some quality rest time when they can. "It is important to eat a lot and take supplements," Holland said. "Going out there in that heat you can lose it."

Holland arrived on campus in time to take two classes--microeconomics and theater. "It went pretty good,"?he said of his collegiate academic start.

In other news:

*Auburn is shipping season ticket orders this week by Fed Express or post office priority mail. Fans who designated on their order forms they would pick them up in person can do that beginning Wednesday at the AU Ticket Office.

*Quarterback Cameron Newton said that he is working on "staying consistent and focusing on the small things that can help my game."

*Newton said that the first scrimmage will be a big one for the newcomers like wide receiver Trovon Reed, a standout in the summer voluntary workouts. "Everyone knows about Trovon," Newton said. "He still has to prove himself when the pads go on."

*Commenting 291-pound freshman running back Ladarious Phillips, Newton said, "He is a big guy. I would just love to see him just go down and bowl over people, but first he has got to learn the plays, but that is every freshman."

*Kodi Burns won praise from wide receiver coach Trooper Taylor for catching a 60-yard pass in the full pads practice tonight that was well-covered by middle linebacker Josh Bynes. Taylor said that play got his offensive teammates excited and noted that Burns is having a good preseason and is one of the team's key leaders.

*Wide receiver Trovon Reed saw some limited playing time tonight and should be able to scrimmage on Wednesday night, Taylor said.

*Coach Phillip Lolley said he gets a kick out of how confident senior cornerback Demond Washington is. Lolley notes that he has a very, very high level in confidence and is doing very well in practice. "Confidence is absolutely something Demond Washington lacks. If you ask him, he will tell you he is the best tailback on this team, he is the best receiver and he is the best DB. Those are the kind of kids that I like and he really believes that."

*Lolley said that Washington and Neiko Thorpe had to play too many snaps last year, something the coaches will try to avoid this season. With the development of T'Sharvan Bell and Anthony Morgan at cornerback and freshmen Jonathan Mincy and Chris Davis the Tigers have the chance to be three-deep with good athletes at both cornerbacks spots. Lolley is teaching all of his cornerbacks to play both sides of the field.

Roszell Gayden is shown at Tuesday's practice.

Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes said after practice Tuesday night that Roszell Gayden, Brandon Mosley and John Sullen, in no particular order, are in the mix for the starting right tackle spot. Grimes said he would like to have a first string guy selected before too long, but said he will play two guys at right tackle and split the reps if they are performing equally.

*Grimes said as a whole the offensive line is performing better now than it was last year at this time. He said every one of the returning players has improved and singled out senior Lee Ziemba as standing out.

*Gayden said after practice that he feels like he is making strides this preseason adjusting to the offense and its pace. He said he still isn't 100 percent yet (knee problem) that limited him in the spring.

*Mosley is a guy who has made a lot of strides in practice in the past week, according to Grimes. Mosley agreed and said that he is making the adjustment to carrying more weight and playing offensive tackle for the first time in his life. Up to 6-5, 298, he has gained nearly 40 pounds since with Auburn in December. He played tight end at Coffeyville, Kan., Community College.

*Grimes said that he is being a stickler for the players avoiding penalties and made it clear by making the offensive linemen do "up-downs" after practice on Monday to get their attention on that subject.
Practice One

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