Tigers Continue to Work on Game Plan

A report on Auburn's full pads Wednesday night footbal practice is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--The football Tigers put on the full pads for a Wednesday evening practice that focused on installing the game plan for the Sept. 4th season opener vs. Arkansas State.

Auburn coach Gene Chizik said the session was a productive one.

"I thought we had a good practice," said Chizik, who noted the Tigers worked on getting more physical in the session that lasted two hours and 20 minutes.

"I think we got a lot out of it, their energy level was still up, which was good," Chizik said. "Our preparation for our first game is obviously what we focused on tonight."

Arkansas State, Auburn's first opponent, is expected to try to spread the AU's defense and play at a fast past not unlike what the Tiger defenders see in practice from their team's offense.

Commenting on Auburn's opponent, Chizik said, "They run some similar things, which is good for us because we have seen some of those things, but there are variations that deviate well off the path as well so they have got a great mixture of different things on offense.

"They are a pace team, which means they are trying to get in as many plays in as they can--at least that has been their m.o. and so we are really trying to work the pace and get lined up."

One of the newcomers who has been impressive this preseason is wide receiver Trovon Reed, who is getting practice time as an inside receiver, an outside receiver and a "wildcat" formation quarterback.

Reed has shown good hands as a receiver and the ability to make yards after catch. A player who saw action at quarterback last season at Thibodaux, La., High School, he has been getting a look at carrying the football as a part-time QB this preseason.

"I have been taking some reps at it, but Kodi Burns is the leader in the wildcat," Reed said. "I have just been sitting back and taking some reps and letting him teach me ball security, all of the plays and everything."

Trovon Reed is shown during a pass receiving drill.

Chizik had praise for Reed on Wednesday night even though he said the freshman has been "a little banged up."

"We feel good about where he is going to be a week from health-wise next week and he has made some really, really great strides in our opinion in the last month," Chizik said. "We are figuring him in our plans a good bit."

Reed noted that he re-aggravated an old leg injury from high school, but said it isn't serious and he expects to be full speed for the opener.

In other news:

*Sophomore wide receiver DeAngelo Benton, who suffered a cracked bone in his finger at the start of preseason drills, was back for Wednesday night's practice and had a great attitude, said Chizik, who noted that the coaches are going to ease him back into mix. "They aren't throwing that many balls at him in practice now," Chizik pointed out.

DeAngelo Benton

*Chizik said the Tigers are starting to "zero in" on naming a starter at right tackle where junior A.J. Greene, sophomore John Sullen and junior Brandon Mosley are competing for the number one spot. Roszell Gayden, a junior who was expected to challenge for the position, has been slowed by a knee problem.

Commenting on how Greene has moved into the mix for a starting job, Chizik said, "Football, I think, has become more important to him to be honest with you. He is a young man who has talent and he has played this fall like football is more important to him."

Chizik said Greene, who is up to 6-6, 295 pounds heading into his junior season, is playing with more intensity and has a better understanding of the position.

Commenting on Gayden, Chizik said, "Roszell has been in the rotation at times, but he is beat up...That has slowed him down some, but he has really tried hard and given us great effort. We will continue to see how he can help us on the offensive line at some point, some way."

*Another lineman who has been set back by an injury is redshirt sophomore Derrick Lykes, who is trying to break into the defensive tackle playing rotation. With Lykes questionable for the opener, true freshmen Jeffrey Whitaker and Kenneth Carter could see significant action in a backup role at tackle. Chizik noted that Lykes is "banged up" and that has slowed the sophomore's progress.

*Senior Mario Fannin has been put on the watch list for Doak Walker Award, which is presented annually to the top running back in college football. Fannin goes into the season with 971 career rushing yards and has averaged 5.6 yards per carry while playing for the Tigers. As a junior he played running back on a part-time basis while lining up more often as a receiver, but this year he is scheduled to be a full-time tailback.

Mario Fannin said on Wednesday night he is looking forward to his senior season.

As a junior Fannin was second on the team in receptions with 42 catches. He finished with 413 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver.

*Chizik said that he is pleased with quarterback Cameron Newton's grasp of the offense with a little more than a week before the opening game. Who Newton's backup is going to be for the opener is something that Chizik avoided saying on Wednesday night, but said the Tigers are getting close to naming a No. 2 QB.

The Tigers are scheduled to practice again on Thursday and Friday and will be off on Saturday.


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