Defense Shines In Auburn's Half-Scrimmage

A report on Auburn's Wednesday football practice features comments from players and head coach Gene Chizik.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn football Tigers put the full pads on Wednesday for a half scrimmage that featured good play from the defense.

"We had a really good day out there," said defensive end Dee Ford. "The defense was rolling and we were having a lot of fun out there."

Another defender, outside linebacker Daren Bates, agreed with Ford saying. "It went good. I think we did real good on the defensive side of the ball. We communicated during the pace (up-tempo offense), we got a lot of turnovers and we got three and outs. We did what we had to do.""

For the Tigers it was their ninth of 15 spring practices and the final one of the week prior to Saturday when they have their second major scrimmage.

"It was a good day today," head coach Gene Chizik said. "I thought we got some goals accomplished today we set out to do before practice. It was a practice that was more halfway geared to cleaning up some issues that were out there that I didn't feel like were quite where we need to be yet."

Chizik said the practice, which included the half scrimmage, was "really good" and featured "a lot of teaching moments and lot of things I think we will be able to polish up on and be ready for Saturday's scrimmage."

The coach said he will be looking for consistency in Saturday's second major scrimmage. Chizik said the coaches are planning to keep their top guys on both offense and defense playing together during the session.

"We want the tailbacks to get a feel for the offensive line that is blocking in front of them and protections<' Chizik noted. "We want the linebackers to get a feel for the secondary and who is making the calls--things of that nature. The focus is going to be exactly what it was the week before. The name of the game is going to be consistency. That is what we need to get done."

Chizik said the Tigers are in pretty good shape physically with the team more than halfway finished with spring drills. "Saturday is going to be practice 10," he pointed out. "I think we have the normal beat up, bumped and bruised players everybody else has at this time in the spring.

"Overall, I am pretty pleased with where we are health-wise because it has been physical," he added. "We have done a lot of contact, but I think they have held up real well."

In other news:

*A former scholarship player who had left the team because of heat-related health issues, offensive tackle Aubrey Phillips, is back as a walk-on this year and has improved a lot this spring, Chizik said. However, the coach added that the former Olive Branch, Miss., High star "obviously has a ways to go." Chizik said he is proud of the effort that Phillips is putting in at Auburn as a student and a football player on his second go-around. Chizik wouldn't say if Phillips will go back on scholarship in 2011. He said that is something that will be addressed after spring drills.

*Another offensive lineman, guard Ed Christian, has been limited in what he can do this spring as he tries to recover from a knee problem that limited his in the fall, too.

*Chizik said that safety Ryan Smith is not practicing, but is in class and is still part of the team. His status is the same as linebacker Jessel Curry. "As I addressed earlier in the spring, Jessel is working through some personal issues at this time," Chizik said. "He is enrolled in school. He is not going through spring practice, but if the status of any of our players changes, I will let you know."

Commenting on Smith, Chizik said, "Ryan Smith the same thing. Ryan Smith is going through some personal issues at this time--conceptually the same thing. He is working through some things."

*The Tigers will be host to their annual high school coach's clinic on Thursday and Friday. Former Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher is the keynote speaker.

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