As was the case last Wednesday and again on Saturday at the second major scrimmage for spring training, the defense held the upper hand.
"We did some good things in practice today and some good things in the scrimmage on defense, but we will have a long way to go," said sophomore Jake Holland, who is running number one at middle linebacker.
Junior Jonathan Evans, the most experienced of the linebackers, had a big smile when talking about the defense's performance on Wednesday. "We had a really good day," he said. "We have made a lot of progress since the start of spring and I think we are going to continue to improve."
Auburn head coach Gene Chizik wasn't as excited about the practice as the linebackers were. The coach who has consistently praised the team's intensity this spring said that he "didn't feel completely good about the tempo" at the two-hour session on Wednesday and the energy compared to other days.
"We did do some good things," the coach said. "I did think we made some strides in terms of installation and getting some new things in."
With the numbers down this spring because of losing a large senior class and other attrition, Chizik said the format for Saturday's A-Day Game will be an offense vs. defense scrimmage using the scoring system employed in the 2009 spring game that is also used in scrimmages. In addition to points being awarded for touchdowns, extra points, field goals and safeties, both the defense and offense can score for reaching goals like forcing a three-and-out on defense or making a long play on offense.
Chizik said the focus for the A-Day Game, which kicks off at 2 p.m. on Saturday, will be how players handle the basics such as blocking and tackling. "It be viewed upon by us no different than any other practice," the coach said.
Chizik said that quarterbacks Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley, who are continuing to battle for the vacant starting spot, will evenly split the reps working with both the first offense and second team offense. "We will really try to balance it up," he said.
The coach added that the plan is to play everybody who is ready to go on Saturday. "Our whole team is so young nobody is exempt from reps," Chizik said.
In other news:
*Running back Onterio McCalebb was held out of the scrimmage part of practice on Wednesday after being shaken up on Monday. His injury is not believed to be serious.
*Chizik said that redshirt freshman linebacker Jawara White is making progress physically from surgery (neck/back) that is limiting what he can do this spring. He is being slowly worked into the mix at practice with team trainers keeping a close eye on his progress.
"He is starting to put on the pads a little and running around and see how that feels," Chizik said. "Obviously, we have to be very judicious and very aware of how we move forward with that."
*Fans can take photos of the BCS Championship Trophy from 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Auburn Arena on Saturday. The trophy will be on display on the north side of the arena in the Lovelace Hall of Honor.
*Tickets to the A-Day Game are $5. Students with AUIgnited cards can enter with no charge. Tickets are available through Friday at Auburn area bookstores.