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Sunday, Apr. 10, 2011

Auburn football: Defense shines in scrimmage

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Miscues plague offensive squad

By ANDY BITTER

abitter@ledger-enquirer.com

AUBURN, Ala. -- After the offense had the better scrimmage last week, Auburn’s defense evened the score Saturday.

Everyone involved agreed the defense came out on top of the Tigers’ second full-scale scrimmage of the spring at Jordan-Hare Stadium, a workout closed to the media and public but open to several hundred high school coaches in town for a clinic.

“Offensively it was one of the most discouraging days this spring, for sure,” quarterback Clint Moseley said. “Probably the most discouraging day. …

“Just a lot of missed assignments from guys that shouldn’t be missing assignments, including myself. Just a really bad day. We lacked energy, execution, all of it. Just disappointed our coaches today.”

Auburn started with a blitz period and some special teams work before doing a half-scrimmage. The offense fared OK during that portion.

After more special teams work, the Tigers finished the scrimmage. That’s when the defense shined.

“They must have had something in their water that we didn’t have,” wide receiver Trovon Reed said. “The defense -- all of the sudden, everybody on the sidelines was jumping and screaming and we were looking at each other like, ‘Hold on. Who do they have over there?’ It was like a different team. It looked like the team we were playing last year in the second half.”

“If we can just come out there and start the way we finished, we’re going to be a great defense,” defensive end Nosa Eguae said.

Moseley and Barrett Trotter split reps with the first team at quarterback. Walk-on Logan Paul took the second-team snaps.

None of them had much success. Chizik said the quarterbacks were “very sporadic” in general and wanted to see them manage the offense better.

“It was a tough day for us offensively and a tough day overall,” offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said. “Just execution. We’ve got a long way to go. That’s just the bottom line.”

There were some positives on offense. Auburn got a couple of big plays out of wide receiver DeAngelo Benton and got its pace cranked up during a few periods. Chizik was pleased with the physicality of the defense and how it forced some turnovers.

Despite the plaudits from the offense, defensive coordinator Ted Roof wasn’t entirely pleased with his group.

“At times it was good, at times it wasn’t so good,” Roof said. “We’ve just got to keep pounding a rock and become a more physical football team each and every day as far as emphasizing stopping the run and taking the ball away.”

Tackling, like last year, remains an issue.

“We’re getting guys in the right spots but our angles of approach aren’t great right now and we’re letting some balls get back across the field on us,” Chizik said.

There was plenty of individual praise to go around on defense. Chizik said Corey Lemonier, Dee Ford and Craig Sanders did a solid job on the defensive line, and Roof said Daren Bates is showing better linebacker instincts in his second year at the position.

But the Tigers’ starting 11 remains open on defense, with Roof saying it probably won’t be hammered down until the end of two-a-days.

“Noooo. Nooo. No. Not even close,” Roof said. “There’s still a lot of jobs that are up for grabs. And that’s part of the deal. We’ve got to create more competition against people for jobs and create competition with yourself.”

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