Defensive End Wins Praise From Head Coach

Gene Chizik comments on players and his football team's progress in this report that includes a video.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Gene Chizik gave Sunday night's lengthy practice a good review after his Tigers participated in Fan Day prior to the session.

Working in full pads under their new and improved practice field lights, the Tigers made corrections from Saturday's scrimmage, the second of the preseason, and also added more to the offense and defense.

"I thought the energy level was extremely high," Chizik said. "They were very focused. Obviously, we made some mistakes as expected, but their energy and effort was really up there."

Commenting on what the focus was for the session that lasted more than two hours, Chizik said, "Going back and cleaning up a lot of things from Saturday was big. We are still in the installation phase of putting in different things."

The head coach gave a thumbs up to Fan Day, which he called "tremendous" with around 10,000 fans there to check out the 2011 team. "It was a great opportunity to engage with our fans," Chizik said. "We've got the greatest fans in the country and they came out in masses. It was good for our young guys to see the energy and passion of our fans for this season."

After studying video of Saturday's scrimmage, Chizik said he is still not ready to name a starting quarterback. He said there wasn't enough separation between the quarterbacks on Saturday to name a starter yet. The coach won't say when the Tigers will name their starter, but it will be a surprise if it is not this week.

"All of them did some nice things,"?he said of the QBs. "Defensively, I am really proud of how hard they played. They had some turnovers, which were good.

"Offensively, we really got into a rhythm late in the scrimmage when we got into some pace stuff. We did quite a bit of that and moved the ball well.

"We are making progress, there is no doubt about that," the head coach added. "I think on special teams Saturday we made a lot of headway in identifying some young guys who will be able to play roles."

Sophomore Corey Lemonier, who is battling for a starting spot at defensive end with junior Dee Ford, is having a good preseason, Chizik said.

"Corey has had a really great camp," Chizik pointed out. "He has just really got a great first step and quickness. His pass rush has really kind of gone to the next level--at least he is working in that direction.

"We have got to continue to work on the run game with him and anchoring down that point on the run game," Chizik said. "I am very pleased with him."

Lemonier said he is encouraged by what he saw in Auburn's scrimmage on Saturday.

"I?thought the scrimmage was great because a lot of young freshmen proved they can contribute to the team and I think a lot of them are going to be great players," Lemonier said.

The sophomore said he is encouraged by the improvement he is seeing from the rebuilding defense. "We did pretty good, but we still have some spots that we need to fix,"?he said. "We can go in the film room and evaluate what we did wrong and them come back and try to do things better."

Lemonier said that believes he will be an improved player in 2011 compared to 2010, a season in which he played a lot of snaps as a true freshman. "I think I?have gotten better at reading blocks and being physical on the line of scrimmage," he said.

The defensive end noted that a lot of people are competing for starting spots and playing time. "There is so much competition because everybody is making plays," he said.

In other news and notes:

*In addition to appearing at Fan Day on Sunday, players had their photos taken at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

*An estimated 10,000 fans checked out the annual Fan Day. The longest lines were for Chizik, Aubie and sophomore tailback Michael Dyer. Dyer is still out of action with an injury and so is offensive tackle A.J. Greene. Chizik didn't give a specific time for their return.

*Freshman receiver Sammie Coates, who has an ankle injury, is "day to day," according to the head coach. "We are keeping our on it and are hoping he can get back," Chizik added. "Obviously, the sooner the better."

*Another freshman, safety Erique Florence, is having a good preseason. Chizik said he likes the way the former Valley High star finds a way to always be around the football. "He has great field presence," Chizik said.

The team will not practice on Monday and will return for a pair of workouts on Tuesday, the final of the two-a-days sessions for 2011.

Gene Chizik video:

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories