Tigers Get Physical In Practice Without WR

DeAngelo Benton

The Tigers put on full pads for a physical practice session on Wednesday that the head coach said he liked.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Gene Chizik suspended senior wide receiver DeAngelo Benton as the Auburn football team continued preparations for its season opener vs. Clemson with a full pads practice that lasted more than two hours on Wednesday evening. Chizik said the session was an improvement over Tuesday's practice.

Benton started two games as a junior and caught seven passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns in 2011. In three seasons the former high school All-American from Bastrop, La., High has 14 catches for 239 yards, which is not close to the expectations Auburn coaches had when they signed him.

"We have standards and expectations that our football team is expected to uphold and when they do not abide by those there are consequences," Chizik said about Benton's suspension. He added that if the senior improves his behavior he will have a chance to return to the team this fall.

This preseason Benton has not appeared to be pushing for a starting spot so there was a question whether or not he would be featured prominently in the playing rotation for the Sept. 1st opener in the Chick-fil-A Classic.

Benton, who signed with LSU as high school senior before signing with Auburn, was a non-qualifier who spent the 2007 season at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia. It took him an extra season after that to become an academic qualifier. He signed with Auburn in 2009 and played in 12 games as a freshman, catching six passes for 88 yards.

Commenting on what he saw in the full pads session on Wednesday, which featured contact work with the "best vs. the best," Chizik said, "I was very pleased with practice tonight. I feel like the intensity level was back up."

The coach added it was much better than Tuesday's practice. "They responded well,"?he said. "We challenged them and it was good to see."

Chizik said the Tigers took a step forward on developing into a physical football team, something he has been pushing for since spring drills. "We still have a long way go to,"?he added, noting the Tigers continue to put in the game plan for the Sept. 1 opener vs. Clemson.

Redshirt offensive lineman Chad Slade, who is working at both guard and tackle, agreed with the head coach. "I feel like we got better as a team today," he said. "Yesterday we took a step back. I feel like we came out with the mentality to do better and we did it."

Chad Slade was a full-time starter last season.

Slade noted the Wednesday practice as a physical one and he said the Tigers have made strides in that area since spring training.

In other news and notes:

*Chizik said the coaching staff is getting "very close" to naming a starting quarterback. Kiehl Frazier continues to get most of the first team reps with Clint Moseley limited by a sore throwing arm.

Frazier said he is seeing a lot of progress with the offense as a whole and said he believes the Tigers are getting close to being ready to play a game.

*Chizik had praise for center Reese Dismukes and defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker. He noted both players have changed their bodies since last year, particularly Whitaker who has dropped 20 pounds.

Commenting on Dismukes, a Freshman All-SEC selection last year, Chizik said, "I am just really proud of him--he dropped weight, he is moving quicker, he is a tough guy that shows up to practice and goes to work every day. He is the guy who is going to have to anchor that line. He has been very consistent and that has been very good to see.

"Jeff Whitaker, I?think, has made some strides on the defensive line," the coach said. "Without question I think he has really worked to improve his game."

*Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes said he is still evaluating players for the five starting spots up front. He noted that because there are close battles he could play six guys for the five OL spots in the opener. The position coach said he hopes to come up with a starting lineup by the end of this week.

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