Atlanta, Ga. - The Auburn football team took another step toward its New Year's Eve game against the Virginia Cavaliers with an 80-minute practice Thursday afternoon in the Georgia Dome.
Practicing in shells, the Tigers worked on special teams, seven-on-seven and position drills. Auburn assistant head coach and receivers coach Trooper Taylor noted the team's energy during the practice.
"Practice was good today," Trooper said. "The guys flew around a lot. The defense was really crisp. You could really see the intensity from everyone and we had to pull them back and slow them down a little."
Taylor also noted the special teams units looked sharp during Thursday's practice.
"The special teams were locked-in today," Taylor said. "When you don't have any mistakes on substitutions and you don't have to correct anybody it really makes you feel good about what you're doing. Everyone looked good."
Malzahn Talks Bowl Week & Arkansas State
Following the practice, 20 players along with head coach Gene Chizik and his wife, Jonna, visited the The Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite Hospital. Chizik along with players Barrett Trotter, Corey Lemonier and Philip Lutzenkirchen were on closed circuit TV in a show called "The Zone." The group was broadcast throughout the hospital. They also had several children and their families in the studio with them. The other groups went room to room to give out gifts and sign autographs.
"It's always great to be able to give back," Chizik said. "We tell our players all the time that it's not about what people can do for you, but what you can do for other people. Any time you have the chance to come to a place like a children's hospital, just for a day, just for an hour, and try to give somebody some cheer, some hope, some fun, that's what we need to do. The players were really excited about coming here to be able to give back, and I think it worked out great today."
Auburn senior offensive lineman A.J. Greene took part in the hospital visit and was grateful to have the opportunity to visit the children.
"Visiting the kids is something that I love to do," Greene said. "I enjoy spending time with kids that are in the position they are in. It means a lot to them, but I think it means even more to me. When you go through things like that, you come out of the hospital more affected than the kids were, and I'm in that position right now."
The Tigers will go through a walk-through Friday morning at the Georgia Dome in its final practice day before Saturday's game against Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET and will air on ESPN.
Tickets for the Chick-fil-A Bowl are $80 and may be purchased through the Auburn Ticket Office via www.aubtix.com or calling 1-855-AUB-2010. All seating assignments will be based on Tigers Unlimited Priority. For the best seats, fans are strongly encouraged to place orders through the Auburn Athletic Department.
Official Bowl Packages are available through Total Sports Travel, the official Travel management company for Tigers Unlimited and the Auburn Alumni Association. Call 888-367-8781 for your reservation or visit www.totalsportstravel.com.
Chizik, Tigers visit children's hospital
ATLANTA--Coach Gene Chizik and about 20 Auburn players visited the Scottish Rite Children's Hospital in Atlanta on Thursday.
While Chizik and the players signed autographs, offered words of encouragement and handed out Chick-fil-A Bowl mementos, they received far more than what they gave to the patients.
"Visiting the kids is something I love to do," A.J. Greene said. "It means a lot to them, but like Coach Chizik says a lot, you come out of the hospital and you are more effected than the kids were. It made me really feel grateful for all that I have and all of the abilities that God has given me. Just to be able to breathe and not be in a hospital, you don't really see how blessed you are."
Chizik said visiting the hospital was a great way to give back during bowl week.
"We tell our players all the time it's not about what people can do for you but what you can do for other people, and any time you have a chance to come to a place like a children's hospital just for a day, just for an hour, and try to give somebody some cheer, some hope, some fun, that's what we need to do," Chizik said. "The players were really excited about coming here to be able to give back, and I think it worked out great today."
Groups of players fanned out to hospital rooms for up-close visits with patients. Those who were too sick to have visitors also got a chance to hear from the Tigers, however. Chizik and several players, including Atlanta native Philip Lutzenkirchen, were interviewed live in "The Zone," an interactive play area in the hospital. The interview aired live on close circuit TV throughout the facility.
"It was good to go and see some kids who are going through some rough times," Lutzenkirchen said. "We got to go in there and help them relax and not think about what they are going through as much and just have a good time."
Tigers go racing
Tigers at Andretti Racing
The Tigers capped Thursday with a trip to the Andretti Indoor Karting & Games center in nearby Roswell. Players, coaches and family were divided into groups and pitted against one another in Stratos Superkarts. While one group raced around the indoor track, other groups played arcade games, billiards, bowling and basketball.
Quarterback Clint Moseley took part in one racing group but, jokingly, blamed the kart for his next-to-last place finish.
"I was a little disappointed with the car I got," Moseley said. "It kept sputtering from lap to lap and would slow down. I know that sounds like a typical excuse but I would have liked to see how fast I could have gone with another cart. Seriously though, it was a lot of fun. Just getting out here with my teammates is a lot of fun and we all had a great time."