Scottsdale, Ariz.--Routine is always important for a college football player and that has been the goal of the Auburn coaching staff throughout the preparation for the BCS National Championship Game. After a month of on and off practices in Auburn, the Tigers have finally settled into a routine in Scottsdale and coach Gus Malzahn said it has made things run smoothly for the team.
“We feel good about where we’re at,” Malzahn said. “It has been a long layoff. We’re finally getting into a routine of game week, which has been good. A lot of the back home practices kind of seemed like spring practice, focused on the younger guys and trying to stay crisp with our older guys. It’s good to get back into a routine.”
Cameron Newton throws a pass during Wednesday's two-hour practice.
On Wednesday the Tigers continued that routine with a two-hour practice in full pads that focused on polishing up things on both sides of the ball while continuing to get back in top form physically. Coach Gene Chizik said after two days of work in Arizona he’s pleased with what he sees from his team.
“It was a really, really good day of preparation,” Chizik said. “We went in full pads. It a nice, physical practice out there, which is what we needed. We’ve prepared well. We’ve still got time and got some things we need to get cleaned up but I think we’re on track.”
One of the things that people will notice when watching Auburn practice is a relaxed atmosphere at times where coaches and players can interact and joke with each other. Coach Trooper Taylor is often at the forefront of that along with several players such as T’Sharvan Bell. Chizik said one of the things about this Tiger team is that they know when to turn it up and when it’s needed the most.
“The great thing about our team is that when it’s time to get going we know how to work,” Chizik said. “When it’s time to have some fun you’ve got to have a mixture of both. Our guys have been really able to turn it on and turn it off. We started off well today and it was on and we had a great practice.”
Mike McNeil, Demetruce McNeal and T'Sharvan Bell walk to Auburn's practice site at Scottsdale Community College.
Bell has quietly become one of Auburn’s key contributors on the defensive side of the ball. A sophomore, he has developed into perhaps the Tigers’ best cover man and also does a very good job in run support. He said that for him Wednesday was a fun day getting back physical on the practice field.
“A lot of guys were like ‘aw man we’re going full pads today’ but when we got out there and got them on it kind of felt like we were getting out there to play,” Bell said. “We’re just competing against each other and executing at a high level. Everybody was moving around real fast.”
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Everyone seemed to be moving around very well on Wednesday and running back Michael Dyer said the time off was very good for him as the normal wear and tear for a freshman wore him down some at the end of the year. He said he feels fresh and is looking forward to getting back on the field.
The only players that weren’t dressed out were of the injured variety as A.J. Greene looks to be coming back nicely following his broken ankle suffered against Clemson. Freshmen Trovon Reed (redshirt) Jawara White (redshirt) and Ladarius Phillips (redshirt) were all watching along with Aairon Savage and Ashton Richardson. Phillips was wearing a walking boot on his left foot.
Auburn’s players will have a chance to see a champion on display tonight as the team is scheduled to see the Phoenix Suns take on the defending NBA Champion L.A. Lakers. Oregon is also scheduled to take in the game as well.