AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn’s defense didn’t steal the spotlight during Saturday’s A-Day scrimmage, but a few players still stood out nonetheless.
Despite the defense’s 57-31 loss using the team’s reward-based scoring system, defensive end Michael Goggans earned the game defensive Most Valuable Player award after registering a sack and two tackles for a loss.
“It felt real great out there,” the junior said. “I just came off the line, and I read the play from the get-go. The second time, I just bull-rushed the guy and got straight back to the quarterback.”
The defense was a mix of backups and walk-ons throughout Saturday. Coach Gene Chizik and defensive coordinator Ted Roof decided to limit the reps for most of the starters after a physical spring.
“There was no real reason for the first-team defense to play that much against the second-team offense,” defensive tackle Mike Blanc said. “Because our defensive line coach, he feels like he has a pretty good understanding of what we can contribute when the season comes around.”
Even when the defense managed a pass rush, it had to hold back. Quarterbacks were off limits to contact.
“I had a sack, and I was about to take him down, but I was like, ‘Hold on We can’t hit him,’” Blanc said. “It’s good. It teaches you how to practice. We can’t be hurting our teammates.”
Wish come true
Onterio McCalebb finally got his wish. The running back’s mom, Staphisa McMillian, was part of a group from his hometown of Fort Meade, Fla., that made the 500-mile drive to see the spring game.
McMillian, who has battled drug problems, never had seen her son play football. McCalebb was taken away from his mother in fourth grade and lived in several homes in the Fort Meade area before attending Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., in the fall and coming to Auburn in January.
As if her presence wasn’t enough to make the day special, McCalebb broke off a 70-yard touchdown run in the third quarter on one of his two carries on the day.
“It’s just wonderful,” McCalebb said. “I turned around one time and saw my mom on the sidelines, and she was just sitting there laughing. It looked like she was crying. I was so excited.”
Wideout Terrell Zachery’s 70-yard touchdown run in the second quarter appeared to be a vintage play from offensive coordinator Guz Malzahn.
Quarterback Kodi Burns took the snap, faked a handoff to running back Ben Tate and appeared to run an option play to the right before flipping the ball to Zachery, who passed by the other direction on an inside end around. Zachery got a block and shot up the left sideline for the score.
“We’ve been working on that play all spring, and, every time we ran it, we were one block away from busting it,” Zachery said. “Today, it was wide open.”
Surgery for Trotter
Redshirt freshman Barrett Trotter was on crutches watching the scrimmage after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Thursday’s practice.
Trotter will undergo surgery next week, according to AuburnSports.com. The expected rehab time for such an injury is six to nine months.
“It’s really tough,” quarterback Neil Caudle said. “Barrett’s worked so hard in the offseason, and he played so good in the spring. It’s not good for something to happen to that good of a guy, but it’s part of the game. You’ve just got to roll with the punches and get back.”
Place-kicker Wes Byrum earned the game’s special-teams MVP award. The junior made a 46-yard field goal with 1:40 left in the game. He also came up just short on a 51-yarder as the clock expired. … Darvin Adams led the receivers, catching four passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. … H-back Mario Fannin played a variety of roles. He ran two twice for 22 yards and caught four passes for 71, including a 41-yarder from Burns, during which Fannin lost his helmet and continued to fight for extra yards. … The crowd of 45,381 was an A-Day record. … Auburn concludes spring drills with a practice this evening.