Chizik Sees Signs Of Progress at Cornerback

<B>Gene Chizik</b>

Auburn, Ala.--Two practices after publically challenging his cornerbacks to play better, defensive coordinator Gene Chizik said he is seeing signs of improvement.

After watching the Tigers run through a short but crisp workout on Thursday, Chizik said he was pleased with what he saw. The defensive coordinator, who also doubles as the position coach for the cornerbacks and safeties, made it very clear on Tuesday that he was unhappy with the play the Tigers were getting at the cornerback spot opposite senior Carlos Rogers, who is having an All-SEC type season.

Chizik said that starting cornerback Montae Pitts had lost his first string job and would have to compete for it this week and next week prior Auburn's home game vs. Georgia a week from Saturday. Chizik said the door was open for the backups to make a move.

"It has really been going good," he said. "I think we have created a situation where they understand the importance of somebody stepping up to the plate and the urgency, I guess you could say.

"Zach Gilbert is coming around," Chizik added. "Patrick Lee is coming around. I think they really understand this is really up in the air. We will see what happens this upcoming week. I can tell you that no matter who starts right now, there is going to be some guys rotating in."

Zach Gilbert

Chizik was looking to light a fire under Pitts with his comments earlier this week. When asked how Pitts has performed since getting the challenge," Chizik responded, "Real well. He understands, he knows. I would expect him to react. They really don't have a choice. They are going to react well and compete or they certainly won't be in there."

The defensive coordinator said he believes the Tigers have made progress in a shortened week of practice during their first off week of the season.

"I think Coach (Tommy) Tuberville did a great job of really setting a plan for our team because we have been on a 12 1/2-13-week grind," Chizik said. "I thought we did it really smart this week. The kids were fired up today. Of course, the weather was cooler. They were focused. They knew we weren't going to be out there very long. I thought they focused all week and I thought we got accomplished what we set out to do at the beginning of the week."

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