Auburn, Ala.--Following a physical full pad practice on Wednesday morning, the Auburn Tigers gave some veterans an afternoon break and focused on some younger players in preparation for Saturday's second scrimmage of the preseason. Coach Tommy Tuberville
said with his team tired and beat up it was a good opportunity to focus on learning.
"We had a good day today," Tuberville said. "We worked a lot of younger guys. A lot of guys are sore are beat up. We've had 12 or 13 days in a row of practice without an off day. Tomorrow we're going to pull back tomorrow and give them more of a mental day than a physical day. We'll have more meetings with some walk-through's in the afternoon to work on the kicking game.
"We're making some progress," he added. "Our younger guys are really pushing through it. The grind starts to get them about this time. We're getting near the end in terms of having them all day long. I'm sure they're all looking forward to school starting."
Barrett Trotter hits Eric Smith on a crossing route (Smith is entering the shot on the right).
Practicing in shorts and shoulder pads for around two hours, Wednesday afternoon's focus was on the young players and that meant quarterbacks Kodi Burns and Chris Todd got a break from the action. That gave Neil Caudle and Barrett Trotter a good opportunity to get reps with the first unit and Tuberville said both looked good.
"They had thrown too many passes," Tuberville said of Burns and Todd. "They're fine. They could have thrown but we needed to look at the other guys. I thought they did well. Barrett threw the ball well and Neil threw the ball well. They know what they are doing. It's good to see both of them have a little success."
Getting all the reps in both 7-on-7 work and in team drills, both Trotter and Caudle made some plays. Caudle had several nice deep balls for big gains but also threw interceptions to Jerraud Powers and Josh Bynes. On the receiving end of two of the biggest plays was freshman Philip Pierre-Louis, who worked with the kickoff return team as well with Tristan Davis sitting out with a sore ankle.
Jerraud Powers picks off a pass intended for Rod Smith.
While the race for the starting quarterback job may last until game week of the opener, the battle for number three was expected to be decided sooner. This weekend's scrimmage may help to decide that but Tuberville said that's not a given.
"Those guys will probably get more snaps than the first two," Tuberville said. "We'll definitely look at both of them. It's a good situation. We've never been in this situation before where we've got four guys we feel pretty good about. You're going to have a tough decision to make but that's at every other position too."
Davis wasn't the only back out of practice as Brad Lester and Ben Tate also missed the practice. Lester is just worn down according to Tuberville while a collision with Chris Evans has Tate a little dinged up. Former running back turned receiver Mario Fannin also missed the workout with what Tuberville described as a tight muscle.
"They're fine," Tuberville said. "They could go we're just trying to get them ready for Saturday. "He (Mario) has a tight ham (hamstring). By Saturday I hope he's ready to go. You just don't want to pull it where he's out a couple of weeks."
Another injured Tiger is defensive lineman Darrell Roseman. With rods in both legs after having stress fracture problems his first two years at Auburn, Tuberville said he won't practice again until Auburn gets back on their regular practice fields beginning Tuesday.
Auburn will have a short kicking practice on Thursday afternoon at 4:15, a morning full pad practice on Friday and then the second scrimmage of the preseason Saturday morning beginning around 9 a.m. The scrimmage will be closed to the public.
James Swinton goes up high over Ryan Williams to snare a TD pass from Caudle.
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Caudle may have a leg up in the race for the number three quarterback position by virtue of his second job with the Tigers. Caudle is currently the number two holder and Tuberville said he'll be making all the trips with the Tigers in that capacity. That likely means Trotter will have to beat him out clearly to earn the number three spot.
Tuberville said they are still waiting to hear from the NCAA concerning true freshman Reggie Hunt's eligibility. Tuberville said he's got everything in and now they're just waiting. Tuberville said they hope to get him in soon and take a look at him at running back and possibly defensive back.
Fellow true freshman Andre Wadley still hasn't taken part in practices after suffering from heat related problems over the summer. Tuberville said they are hoping to get Wadley back as early as next week.
Another true freshman bothered by injuries is looking good and could possibly be on the field in a few weeks. Defensive back T'Sharvan Bell broke a bone in his foot over the summer but is working with the Auburn training staff. He said that he feels good and hopes to be back next week.
While Neiko Thorpe and D'Antoine Hood are getting a long look as the backups at the cornerback position, fellow freshman Drew Cole is making a move in the secondary from corner to safety. After working there part time the last few days, Tuberville said they want to give him a look at safety to see if it's a better fit.
"It's probably an opportunity to play quicker," Tuberville said. "He's not quite as quick out there on the corner as you would like at this time. Eventually he could move back over there once he learns more fundamentals and technique."
Auburn had the third of its four two-a-day practices on Wednesday.