Tigerbytes: The Onterio & Tre Show

AUBURN - There is no question what two running backs sit at the top of Auburn's depth chart as the Tigers prepare for Saturday night's game against No. 2 LSU at Jordan-Hare Stadium. They are senior Onterio McCalebb and sophomore Tre Mason.

Running back Onterio McCalebb

So said running backs coach Curtis Luper after Wednesday's practice.

"I see Onterio and Tre doing a lot of it initially just because they've had success," Luper said. "I think they feed off each other and are good complements to each other. I think we'll play them both together at some point."

Redshirt freshman Mike Blakely and sophomore Corey Grant will provide relief when needed.

"With them being 170 pounds and 200 pounds, respectively, they'll need some help," Luper said. "That's where Blakely will come in and Grant will come in to help them out some. It's hard to play two, but it's really hard to play four."

Grant, a standout in spring practice, is ready to run, when the opportunity arises.

"He's been ready," Luper said. "It's just a matter of trying to get them all in. There aren't enough touches to go around."

The Tigers finished up heavy work in preparation for LSU, and head coach Gene Chizik liked what he saw.

"I thought we had a really good practice tonight," Chizik said. "I think this week has been very good. All the kids are focused. They are excited about playing in the game. I think the energy was definitely there. They understand the challenge ahead of us. It ought to be fun Saturday night."

Auburn offensive line coach Jeff Grimes gave mixed reviews to how his unit played in last Saturday's 31-28 overtime victory over Louisiana-Monroe.

"I would say OK," Grimes said. "I thought we made some improvement in some areas. The thing I was probably most pleased with was that playing a team that played some non-traditional looks, lots of exotic blitzes, unusual alignment and that sort of thing, we communicated and handled that pretty well. I was encouraged by that. I was discouraged that, when we had a chance to put the game away, we just didn't quite get it done."

True freshman Pat Miller got some work at right tackle against Louisiana-Monroe, but fellow true freshman Avery Young remains the starter.

"I wouldn't say it's fluid necessarily," Grimes sad. "As we've really tried to say since we started the season, no job is necessarily guaranteed from one game to the next. A couple of guys are pushing for playing time, and Pat is one of them."

The other, presumably, is redshirt freshman guard Christian Westerman, who missed last Saturday's game with an injured left foot. He practiced Friday.

Sophomore center Reese Dismukes didn't plays as well against ULM, Grimes said, as he played against Mississippi State a week earlier. Dismukes was suspended for the season-opener.

"I thought he came back and played well against Mississippi State," Grimes said. "This game wasn't his best. I'm really not sure why. He and I talked about that. I don't think it was a lack of effort. It was just a number of technical things he didn't do as well as he could. He's a smart kid and it means a lot to him. I think he'll get better and recognize what he needs to do."

Wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor said during preseason camp that he wanted to see senior Emory Blake, who wears No. 80, catch 80 passes. Taylor called it "80 for 80."

Blake has been the focus of opposing defenses and isn't on that kind of pace. He has caught eight passes for 166 yards, an average of 21 yards per catch. But Taylor said Blake won't complain.

"He's going to compete and when he gets an opportunity to make a play, he will," Taylor said. "If we ask him to block 50 times or run a 5-yard route or a 50-yard route, he's all in. He's definitely one of those guys who keeps things together and talks to the guys, gets a good feel for the temperament of the room. Does he want the ball? Yeah, he'd like to have it every play. At the same time, he's also a team player."

For videos of interviews with Grimes and Taylor, follow the links below.



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