Auburn, Ala.--With opening night less than two weeks away, it looks like Andrew McCain has firm control on a starting assignment at offensive tackle.
With junior Ryan Pugh making the move to become the full-time starting center this year, the right tackle spot was vacant. McCain, a fifth-year senior who has seen limited playing time, moved up to first team in spring training and has held on to that spot throughout preseason practices in August.
Asked if he is excited about the possibility of being a key player for the 2009 Tigers, McCain tells Inside the Auburn Tigers, “Yes, it is exciting, but there is also a lot of pressure that comes with it. I want to try to be a good leader and a guy this team can count on.
“I continue to make mistakes every day that need to be corrected,” he says. “That is what we are trying to do right now so when the season comes along we can hit the ground running, go full speed and keep the mistakes to a minimum.”
Correcting mistakes and offensive execution were major themes in Auburn’s third scrimmage of the preseason last Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. McCain says the offense is making progress.
“I think we looked good although we made some mistakes,” he says. “We are getting to where we are trying to fine-tune things instead of working on the whole offense like we did early in camp.
“Personnel-wise, we have to get a little more crisp, but I think we are getting there,” he notes. “We are getting our pace more to where we want it to be. We are not there yet although we are really improving. We just have to continue to do that for the next couple of weeks.”
Auburn coach Gene Chizik notes that he wants to see McCain continue to improve and says he has talked to the senior about how important he is to the offense.
“He has really stepped up to the plate,” Chizik says. “I am really proud to see it. He has a lot of improvement to do in the next two weeks between now and game time, but I think he has come light years from where he was when we got here to be honest with you.”
Andrew McCain is shown at a preseason practice.
McCain, who is up to 6-6, 310 pounds, originally came to Auburn as a tight end out of Briarwood Christian in Birmingham. He played briefly on the defensive line before being moved to offensive tackle in 2006. He played in seven games at tackle in 2007 and saw extensive action vs. Mississippi State that year.
In 2008 McCain played as a reserve in all 12 games, but unless something changes his role will be much larger for the Tiger offense this year.
McCain is also trying to make sure he stays large as opening night approaches. Offensive linemen can lose a lot of weight during the heat of August practices. The senior notes he has been carefully monitoring what he weighs along with what he eats and drinks.
“It fluctuates some, but I have been able to keep my weight on,” he says. “They have us eating over at the new student village and they are feeding us really well, which is helping out a lot.
“You have to be sure that you stay on top of it, hydrate and eat four or five meals a day so you will have enough calories,” he says. “The food over there at The Village is great. Coach Yox (strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall) and Coach (Joseph) Walker, who is our nutritionist, have been doing a good job working with those guys over there. It has been a great addition to our football program and our university.”
The Village is the largest dorm project in Auburn history and is located next to the new basketball arena, which is under construction and scheduled to open next summer.
“I am not living over there, I live off campus, but all of the freshmen live over there at The Village and they seem to like it a lot,” McCain says. “That place is nice. I think it is good to keep them together and it builds camaraderie as does all of us going over there to eat.”
Andrew McCain has played tight end, defensive end, defensive tackle and offensive tackle in college.
McCain and the Tigers were off Monday and will return to the practice field on Tuesday.
“Everybody is a little banged up and bruised,” he points out. “It was a long camp and even since classes started it has still been kind of a camp mentality. We are just now starting into a little more game prep preparation. We are persevering and guys are continuing to work hard. We are still making mistakes, which we don’t need to be doing at this point if we are going to continue to get better. Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks we will really be able to fine-tune things before game one.”
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