Tigers Get Physical to Prepare for Scrimmage

News, notes and quotes are featured from Auburn's Monday night football practice.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn football Tigers practiced nearly three hours on Monday evening finishing up under the lights as the Tigers put on the full pads for what Coach Gene Chizik said was a physical practice 24 hours prior to their third scrimmage of the preseason.

The Tigers will wrap up two-a-days on Tuesday with a morning workout and the evening scrimmage that Chizik said will be an important one for making personnel decisions for the opening game on Sept. 4th.

"Most of the day was physical contact, but not bringing anybody to the ground," Chizik said of Monday's practice that featured 11 on 11 work and seven on seven drills. He noted the Tigers continued to install their offense, defense and kicking game and said he liked what he saw. "Tonight was a good practice."

One of the more closely watched positions for the coaches for the scrimmage will be at right tackle where redshirt junior A.J. Greene is trying to move to the top of the depth chart after making the move from left tackle as Lee Ziemba's backup.

"I would say there has been a noticeable improvement," Chizik said of Greene. However, the head coach added that more improvement is needed.

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn noted that the switch turned on for Greene this year, a phrase Greene used to describe himself after practice on Monday night. "I decided it was time I did everything possible to play to my potential," said Greene, a former defensive lineman.

John Sullen, Roszell Gayden and Brandon Mosley have also been working at right tackle. Mosley is also getting work on the left side.

Chizik said the Auburn coaches will also be looking to fill out the depth charts on special teams based on what they see in the Tuesday scrimmage. "I think a lot of those positions are going to be filled by some young guys," Chizik noted. "We have got to make some quick decisions."

Defensive ends Nosa Eguae and Craig Sanders block during a kickoff return drill on Monday evening. Two other defensive linemen, Derrick Lykes and Jeffrey Whitaker, are also working as blockers on kickoff returns.

Chizik noted that the contact work matching the first team offense vs. the first team defense has "been back and forth" throughout preseason drills. "There have been some good things on both sides and obviously some things we can learn from on both sides," he said.

Chizik pointed out that he likes the big plays he has seen on offense, but wants to see more. "We have still got to be able to hunker in there and run the football consistently. We are still looking for that. I don't think that has happened yet.

"Then defensively we obviously need to stop the big plays," Chizik added. "We have had some good things happen, but obviously any time you have an explosive play on offense, defensively you have to look where your breakdowns are."

In other news:

*Freshman Ryan White has moved from quarterback to cornerback, the position he was expected to play when he was signed in February out of Tallahassee, Fla. "There is a good bit of catch-up there, but he is a very good athlete and is it is just going to be a matter of how fast he catches on to the stuff," Chizik said.

"He understood the move and why and at the end of the day all of these guys want to play and that is the bottom line," Chizik added. "We talked about it and he thought about it and that is what we recommended he do and he was good with it."

*Senior defensive lineman Michael Goggans said he is expecting help from newcomers at the front four positions this year. "The young guys are coming on strong," he said. "They are active, they are in tune to directions and they are ready. They can provide a lot of depth if they stay focused, stay ready and stay hungry."

*Freshman wide receiver Antonio Goodwin said he feels like he is making progress on his goal to play as a true freshman. A backup to juniors Darvin Adams and Quindarius Carr, Goodwin is a player who has the potential to be a deep threat this year, according to his position coach, Trooper Taylor.

One of the biggest challenges for freshman offensive players at Auburn is getting comfortable with the pace of Gus Malzahn's offense. "It is fast tempo, but I am picking it up and I am getting there," Goodwin said.

*Senior wide receiver Kodi Burns contends that the wide receivers need to be catalysts for the Malzahn's offense. "Last year when the receivers made plays that is when the offense really got rolling and that is what we are trying to do this year," he said.

In his second season as a receiver after previously playing quarterback, Burns said he has made significant progress at the position. "I feel like it is night and day. My release is a lot better getting off the line of scrimmage. I am getting off man coverage better and my route running is better. The spring and summer has really helped me out."

*Chizik said that freshman running back Ladarious Phillips is making progress, but has work to do. "I think he is like the rest of them--he is learning a lot of stuff fast and he is very focused and he tries to do exactly what we are asking him to do. He is a big, big athletic guy as we all know. I think it is just going to take time, as it is with a lot of these guys, to catch on."

*Senior cornerback Demond Washington, Auburn's top kickoff returner last season, worked on kickoffs at Monday's practice along with sophomore tailback Onterio.

*A pair of defensive ends, true freshman Craig Sanders and redshirt freshman Nosa Egaue, are training as the lead blockers for the kickoff returners.

*The Tigers will start their Tuesday scrimmage at 6 p.m., which is the same time they will play their opener on Sept. 4th. Chizik said the time was picked to simulate the conditions with the sun and other conditions at that hour.


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