Auburn football: Tigers once again discard scrimmage in favor of practice

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comApril 12, 2014 

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and the Tigers open their preseason camp on Friday afternoon.

LAUREN BARNARD — Auburn University

AUBURN, Ala. — Last week, Auburn held a half-scrimmage, half-practice. With another scrimmage set for Saturday, coach Gus Malzahn once again scrapped those plans at the last minute.

"We came over here the first part of practice (and there) was a lot of clean-up," he said. "We even went back just to some basic fundamentals as far as our alignment, assignment stuff the first half of practice. Second half of practice we got after it pretty good, had a lot of 11-on-11, had a little half-line, a little inside."

Specifically, the Tigers focused on what Malzahn called down "third down and seven-plus."

"Rushing the passer, protecting, throwing the football, knowing where the chains are, things like that," he said. "We did a little bit of red zone in team and a little red zone in 7-on-7. ...We also mixed in special teams in the middle and at the very end."

The way Carl Lawson, the defensive pass rush "went well." The sophomore defensive end said he got a few sacks, but didn't give an exact number. He was just one of the multiple defenders who brought pressure on Saturday, though.

"As a d-line, like I told you, we are developing each day," he said. "We all get back there, and we all stay off the quarterback, but we're all working against one another to get better."

Starting at left end, he was joined on the opposite side by Gabe Wright, while Angelo Blackson, Ben Bradley and Jeff Whitaker rotated at defensive tackle.

Just don't ask Lawson to go further in-depth.

"I couldn't really tell," he said. "I was trying to pay attention to what I had to do."

On the opposite side of the line, starting left guard Alex Kozan said Saturday was marred by inconsistencies. But all in all, he thought his unit had a decent practice.

"We had our ups and downs," the third-year sophomore said. "Any day you kind of throw them in the fire with third-down blitzes, the offensive line is going to have its ups and downs. I thought for the most part we did a pretty solid job. Like every position, we’ve got to get better. As a whole, I thought the offensive line had a good day today."

Kozan also said Chad Slade continued to move all over the place. The rising senior, who started all 14 games at right guard last year, was shifted out in favor of Avery Young last week, dropped to the second-team and moved to left guard. But Saturday, Kozan said Slade was back and right guard, in addition to taking reps on the left side.

"Chad is rotating around just like all of us are kind of rotating around just trying to establish depth in case somebody goes down," Kozan said. "Chad’s been moving around and doing a good job with it."

And from what Kozan can tell, Young is settling into his new role at right guard splendidly.

"The things that help him out a lot are that he’s got some longer arms, which help him in pass protection and the run game when he gets under some people," Kozan said. "Avery has been doing some nice things at guard only coming in at it a week or two ago. Avery has really improved every practice at guard."

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