Hoover, Ala.--Gene Chizik said the plans are for a physical preseason as his Auburn Tigers prepare for what should be a challenging season opener vs. the Clemson Tigers in Atlanta.
“You go in with a certain idea of what you want to do,” Chizik said of fall practice. “With our offensive line, we’ve got more depth there than we’ve had since we’ve been here in terms of numbers of players that need to get in there and get reps. All of them have an opportunity to compete for a job.
“We want them during two-a-days and training camp to be physical,” said Chizik, who is beginning his fourth season as head coach of the Tigers. “It has to be a lot of reps. We’ve got several scrimmages planned along with a lot of contact and live drills. I don’t think there’s really any other way to get it done.
“Obviously, we have to be smart about how we proceed with our team as the days go on, but that’s a big part of what we’ve got to do,” he added.
One of the questions the head coach is asked wherever he goes is who will be the starting quarterback with sophomore Kiehl Frazier challenging the returning starter, junior Clint Moseley, for the No. 1 spot.
“We can’t really keep tabs on where they are and what they are doing,” Chizik said of his players who have been involved in voluntary summer drills. “I’m proud of the way it appears they’ve taken responsibility for growing as a player. I see them up around the office a lot on their own watching film and doing the things they need to do to grow as quarterbacks.
“The telltale sign will be what they retain coming back from the spring and their production level in two-a-days,” Chizik noted. “I think they both did some nice things in the spring and it will be very interesting as we move forward in the fall.”
Kiehl Frazier is shown in action during the 2012 A-Day contest.
Chizik wouldn’t put a timetable on when he will name the starting QB. “Obviously, we all know the earlier the better,” he said. “As soon as we’ll know we’re going to go ahead and make the move.”
In other news and notes about the Tigers from SEC Media Days:
*Asked about whether freshman quarterback Zeke Pike would be back on campus for the start of preseason practice, Chizik said that is still to be determined.
“In Zeke’s case we have a certain standard and expectation for our guys. If they’re not living up to that they’re not going to be here. That’s why I sent him home. If he comes back it’s because he’s done everything we asked him to do. He’s got a lot to do.
“Right now we’ll make that decision as we go down the road. As we sit here today he’s at home and will continue to be there until if I feel like it’s the right thing to do to bring him back. He’s got to do a good amount of things to get back here.”
Zeke Pike is shown in an Auburn spring practice.
Asked if he could be back for the start of practice in August, Chizik said, “We’ll continue to evaluate that. I don’t want to answer that because we’ve still got some assessments to do. We’re in communication.”
*Another player home for the summer is sophomore cornerback Jonathan Rose. “His is more personal issues that he’s dealing with,” Chizik said. “If anything changes with his status, I’ll update you.”
*Senior cornerback T’Sharvan Bell is making a good recovery from ACL and MCL surgery after being hurt in the Georgia game.
“I’m very proud of him,” Chizik said. “His rehab is going extremely well and has been for a long time. He’s worked extremely hard at it. If you ever pull a positive from an injury is that he’s had it before. At that time it wasn’t a positive, but in this case it really helped him get through the mental part of it. I think he really did a good job of working through that. He’s in a real good place right now.”
*Sophomore offensive guard Eric Mack, who was wounded in a June 8th shooting incident, is doing well physically, Chizik said. “We’re trying to move him along and get him healthy,” the coach noted. “As a matter of fact he and I talked last night for a long time. He’s trying to move forward. Physically, he’s okay, thank goodness. He’s trying to work into being ready for football shape. He wants to move forward as well. We’re engaged in that process now.”
Eric Mack played as a backup last year during his redshirt freshman season.
*Chizik opened his speech in the main media room on Wednesday thanking people around the region and country for the concerns about the shootings in June that took the life of former Tigers LaDarius Phillips and Ed Christian.
“I think it (practice) is really coming at a great time,” Chizik said. “I think our team is ready. With all of that and looking back on it and trying to move forward I think it’s good timing for our team to start football. It’s a new focus. I think they’ve handled all that well.”
*With his experience coaching in the Big 12, Chizik said anyone who thinks that Missouri and Texas A&M aren’t ready to compete in the SEC will be getting a rude awakening. He said Gary Pinkel of Missouri and Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M are outstanding coaches who will challenge the league with their innovative offensive systems.
*Chizik’s class of 2013 recruiting class is shaping up nicely with 17 verbals and a current national ranking of No. 8 by Scout.com. Commenting on recruiting, the head coach said, “This is a very critical year in recruiting for us. It’s our fourth full class. In my opinion, when you are trying to build for the long term you’ve got to have four full classes in there to say ‘this is the foundation and basis of what we’re trying to do’ so this is a very pivotal class.
“Am I surprised? Not at all. I expect us every year to be in the tops of recruiting and if we’re not then we’ve got to really sit there and re-evaluate what it is and why we’re not. My expectation every year is to be the tops in the country in recruiting. We feel like we are hitting the right players and getting the right players. We are building the program the right way. Auburn is a great place that sells itself and we have to work really hard to continue on that path. We’re definitely going to do that.”
Chizik said that his new coordinators, Scot Loeffler and Brian VanGorder, have been “outstanding” on the recruiting trail.
“When you go to look at who you’re going to bring in as coaches it’s not just whether they can coach or not, it’s a big picture and a large part of that is how do they recruit? The great thing is those guys have both been in the SEC before and in the NFL recently. I think that helps them in recruiting. Young kids want to know about NFL exposure and possibilities.
“They also understand the competitiveness of recruiting in this league,” Chizik added. “They jumped right in. it has been very smooth and they’ve both done a great job.”
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