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Detail on the Auburn fighting not including the beatdown of a furr..


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When offensive tackle Lee Ziemba broke into Auburn’s starting lineup as a freshman last season, coaches and teammates raved about his fierceness and competitiveness.

Ziemba impressed his teammates with his physical play, frequently knocking his defender to the ground, then running upfield to find a second opponent to block. It’s exactly the kind of play-to-the-whistle mentality coaches agree offensive linemen must have, and Ziemba embodies it.

In his preseason press conference Monday, head coach Tommy Tuberville called Ziemba “a tough guy.”

But Ziemba’s behavior during a practice-field fight Tuesday showed how narrow the line can be between intensity and danger.

Right tackle Ryan Pugh was blocking defensive end Antonio Coleman during a routine pass-rush drill Tuesday when the two became entangled. Both players threw punches.

As the two traded blows, trainers raced to separate them. As the fight continued, several other players were drawn in, including a helmetless Ziemba, who dashed into the fray shouting encouragement to Pugh.

As Ziemba crashed into the other players and team staff who were trying to break up the fight, the entire pile staggered backward, into a nearby water cooler. Coleman and another player fell over the cooler; as Ziemba rushed toward the prone Coleman, he was pushed back by at least two teammates.

Coleman stayed facedown on the practice-field turf, attended by trainers, for more than a minute. Several coaches, including Tuberville, shouted at the other players to control themselves.

The drill ended as offensive and defensive coaches huddled their players separately for lectures on how to handle themselves.

“I think intelligence has to outweigh feistiness and aggressiveness,” defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads said after practice. “Hot days like this, humid days like this, tired days like this, tempers will tend to flare.”

Coleman did not appear seriously hurt; he participated in the next drill, an 11-on-11 drill with plenty of contact. So did Ziemba, though the two were never matched up.

Ziemba, Coleman and Pugh weren’t available for interviews after practice Tuesday.

Tuberville didn’t seem concerned by the altercation.

“I hope they’re in a foul mood,” he said. “That’s what football’s about. They’re not going to hurt anybody.”

When a reporter pointed out that Coleman could have been injured in Tuesday’s fight, Tuberville cut him off.

“Next, next, next,” Tuberville said. “Come on, there’re fights every day.”

Several of those fights have involved Ziemba. Last week, he was involved in separate scraps with Coleman and sophomore defensive end Antoine Carter. The fight with Carter ended with an angry Ziemba throwing Carter’s helmet to the ground.

Ziemba’s history with Coleman goes back farther: During a scrimmage in spring practice, Ziemba was blocking Coleman when the two were involved in a fight that continued well after the play was blown dead. The scrap ended with Coleman lying motionless on the Jordan-Hare

Stadium turf for several minutes; he was eventually taken by ambulance to East Alabama Medical Center and diagnosed with a sprained neck, which caused him to miss the rest of spring practice.

Center Jason Bosley said Tuesday that fighting between offensive and defensive linemen isn’t a serious problem.

“I don’t think there’s any animosity,” Bosley said. “It’s just guys out there competing

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