Tigers Focus On Correcting Mistakes

Auburn returned to the practice field on Monday looking to fix problems that surfaced in the first major scrimmage of the spring.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn coach Gene Chizik said he saw signs of improvement as the Tigers returned to football practice on Monday with the emphasis on "cleaning up" mistakes that surfaced in Saturday's scrimmage.

Chizik and his offensive and defensive coordinators said after the session at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday that covered approximately 120 plays that their team needed plenty of work. In practice number eight of 15 in the spring the Tigers put on the full pads for a two-hour session.

"We really tried to go back after we evaluated the scrimmage and go back and really hone in on some of the mistakes we were making," Chizik said.

"Today was really one of those days where we tried to circle back, get better at what we tried to accomplish in the scrimmage," said Chizik, who noted the Tigers made too mistakes in the major scrimmage on Saturday. "Today I thought we made some more progress. I thought we moved forward."

Chizik said the Tigers struggled to perform at the pace the coaches wanted to see in the scrimmage on Saturday and they were not as physical as they need to be.

Looking at the big picture, Chizik said, "After evaluating we have a long way to go." However, he said that he likes his team's effort. "Our guys are doing a nice job of going to work and pressing on," he stated.

On the plus side the coach said the Tigers are making progress on special teams and he liked the that the offense had "some explosive plays" in the scrimmage. "We are going to need those," he said. "Also, we missed a couple of explosive plays that were there we could have had some big hits on. We missed a couple of those you would have liked to have had back. At times I thought we ran the ball effectively."

Commenting on the defense, Chizik said, "I?thought we did a nice job in third downs getting off the field at many points during the scrimmage. I thought there were times when we were really playing aggressively and physically on the runs.

"I thought our pass rush, at times--our four-man pass rush--looked good," Chizik said. "Obviously, we have not arrived there either. I think we are making some strides with our young defensive line, but the downside defensively is we are giving up too many big plays.

"We have got to go back and re-evaluate that," he added. "That is what we went back and re-visited this morning. Last year defensively that was kind of our Achilles heel, certainly, with big plays in the air. We went back and tried to clean some of that up this morning. There was a lot of good--a lot of great teaching moments. It was very clear visually to our team where we were not as good."

In other news and notes:

*While running backs Onterio McCalebb and Michael Dyer were impressive in the scrimmage, the team's other scholarship tailback Anthony Morgan did not have a comparable day. "It is a work in progress, he has got a lot of work to do and a long way to go," Chizik said of Morgan's move from cornerback to running back. The coach said the staff still has high expectations of what Morgan can mean to the offense.

*Jeffrey Whitaker and Kenneth Carter, who will be sophomores this fall, are the favorites to win the starting defensive tackle spots. The only other two scholarship defensive tackles on the roster this spring are Jamar Travis and Derrick Lykes. Asked how they are progressing this spring, Chizik said, "They have got a long way to go. We just have to keep plugging along."

*The Tigers have been going live, full speed on punt coverage and punt returns this spring, but have not done that on kickoff returns. Chizik said the Tigers plan to do more live work on punt returns in Wednesday's practice. He said his goal is to do live work with the kickoff teams before the end of the spring, but noted he was not sure if the Tigers would have time to get to that with seven more practice days remaining.

Chizik added that a goal is to come out of the spring with a punt returner who will be a "weapon" for the special teams this fall. Trovon Reed, Demetruce McNeal, Quindarius Carr and Jonathan Mincey are working as punt returners.

*Chizik said the field goal game is a work in progress with the Tigers replacing kicker Wes Byrum and holder Neil Caudle. Cody Parkey is expected to be the field goal kicker and Josh Harris is returning as the top deep snapper. Trent Fisher and others have been getting work as the holder. "Josh Harris does a great job snapping," the head coach said. "We just have got to get the other two-thirds of that. We have gone some live with that, some not."

*Jared Cooper, who is pushing for a starting spot at guard as a senior, is also getting work at center. Cooper has seen action at all five offensive line spots.

*Quarterback Clint Moseley, who is sharing first team reps with Barrett Trotter, said he is enjoying the competition for the number one spot, but he has no idea of who is at the top of the depth chart or when offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will chose a starter. Moseley said the competition could go all of the until the end of two-a-days in August.

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