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Auburn football: Offense has big night in scrimmage

AUBURN, Ala. — Quarterback Cam Newton put up big numbers, wide receiver Kodi Burns caught two touchdown passes, and running back Michael Dyer got his biggest look this August.

By most accounts, it was a highly successful night for the offense in Auburn’s third scrimmage, unless, of course, the opinion is coming from the man overseeing the group.

“In my mind right now I’m thinking of the things we didn’t do very good,” Tigers offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said. “And we’re still not there yet. Penalty-wise we’re not there yet. Execution-wise we’re not there. And we’ve got two weeks to fix it.”

Regardless, Malzahn was in the minority Tuesday, which belonged to Auburn’s offense.

“They jumped out on us,” linebacker Craig Stevens said. “We tried to find a way to respond, but we just couldn’t get it done.

“They kind of had a little pace going, hitting a couple plays, screens to the sidelines and getting us gassed. Then they ran it down the middle. We just weren’t focused.”

Newton, the No. 1 quarterback, threw three touchdowns passes, two to Burns and one to running back Mario Fannin on a screen play. He also completed a good number of his passes.

“I would say he was better than the last scrimmage,” Malzahn said.

“It was just being consistent and getting into a rhythm early,” Newton said. “That’s very important in playing quarterback, especially with the type of offense that we run, with the bubbles, the slants, the hitches, everything. For me, to get very comfortable and settled at my position, that made everything go very smoothly.”

Burns, a senior who switched to receiver last August, was his favorite target Tuesday.

“I’m a full-blown wide receiver now,” he said. “I’ve come into my role. I’ve had a whole spring and whole summer to work. So I feel pretty natural out there.”

Dyer, a highly-touted freshman, got 10-15 carries and broke off a couple of long runs, getting his most work in a scrimmage this year.

“He broke through the middle and used his speed to get to the second level,” Fannin said. “That pretty much gave our offense some momentum. That’s what we needed from our running game.”

There were some offensive drawbacks. The team had four penalties, and Fannin lost a fumble.

Head coach Gene Chizik and Malzahn want to see their veteran offensive line control the line of scrimmage more.

“We saw some signs of life,” Chizik said. “I don’t think we’re there.”

“You have four of them back,” Malzahn said. “You would think that would be a plus. But at the same time, you have to go out there and get it done.”

As for the defense, there remains plenty of room for improvement. Defensive coordinator Ted Roof said his group missed too many tackles, had poor pursuit angles and gave up too many big plays.

“The good news is they’re all correctable,” he said. “And we’ll get that corrected.”

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