Mixed Reviews For Scrimmage Tune-Up

A report on Auburn's Friday football practice is featured as the Tigers prepare for their initial scrimmage of spring training.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn tuned up for Saturday's first football scrimmage of the spring with a two-hour workout on Friday that included a lot of installation and teaching on both sides of the football.

New offensive coordinator Scott Loeffler said the Tigers have been steadily making progress with five practices in the books. He is hoping to see that trend continue on Saturday in the scrimmage that will be held in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"We are making some mistakes, doing some good things," Loeffler said. "It is typical spring football.

"We have got the young guys out there," he added. "They are doing a great job with effort and we are happy where we are at. Obviously, as a coach you are always striving to be perfect, but day five we are happy where we are at but we are still improving."

Asked what he wants to see from the offense on Saturday, Loffler answered, "Effort and toughness...Mistakes are going to be made tomorrow. That (being mistake-free) is not the objective. We want to go out there and play physical, go out there and play hard with the coaches not out there and get a good evaluation of where we are at in day six and see where we need to go for week two and week three."

Loeffler said that returning quarterback starter, Clint Moseley, will be able to throw normally in the scrimmage after having a sore shoulder and being limited in workouts earlier in the week.

Loeffler, who doubles as the quarterback coach, had good things to say about Moseley, sophomore Kiehl Frazier and early high school graduate Zeke Pike.

"They are learning every day," the coach said. "There is quite a bit of new information they are picking up. I am really happy where they are at. Again, we need to improve, but they are picking it up."

Pike, who joined the team in January after finishing his classes at Dixie Heights High School in Kentucky, earned praise from his position coach on Friday.

Commenting on Pike, Loeffler said, "Any time you make that step from being 18-years-old and going to basketball games in the winter time at your high school to all of the sudden you are in an environment that is demanding...

"We demand that these guys do great academically, we demand that they are on time academically and go to class and we demand that they do a great job with football and Coach Yox (strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall).

"The transition has been good for him," Loeffler said. "He has been a freshman. He has learned how things are done around here at Auburn. He has handled himself quite well for such a young guy."

Zeke Pike throws a pass in practice.

Commenting on Moseley and Frazier, the offensive coordinator said, "They have done a good job. It (the offensive system) is different for them. They have had great attitudes. They are working their tails off. They are trying to do everything in their power to help Auburn win. At the end of the day that is our job.

"Our job is one thing," Loeffler added. "It is not how many touchdown passes, it is not how many of this or how many of that. It is to do our job and help Auburn win. They have got the mentality that they are going to try to do everything in their power to help Auburn football along with the rest of our guys. Those guys are really buying into the team philosophy. It has been great."

New defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said the Friday practice left something to be desired on his side of the football.

"I thought our tempo today wasn't as good as it has been," he pointed out. "I'm not sure why. We actually rolled practice back a little bit, cut some periods, so I was hoping the tempo overall for the day would have been much better.

"I think today's install slowed it down a little bit," VanGorder noted. "It was quite involved. It just didn't feel totally confident in it so that's kind of actually normal."

Brian VanGorder joined the Tigers this season after coaching for the Atlanta Falcons.

Asked what he is going to be looking for in the Saturday scrimmage, the coach said, "The disciplines of the game. I think that we are working on that now, and when I say that it has to do with a lot of our body language on the field, the mechanics of the huddle, the communication that has to go on, how we break it, how we run on and off the field, how we run to the ball, how we leverage the ball.

"I'm really interested in just being a disciplined defense right now, which involves communications and mechanics of how we go about business and certainly into the leverage of our defense," VanGorder added.

Looking at the defense as a whole, he said the secondary looks to be picking up the new system faster than the linemen or linebackers. "I would say that our secondary is fighting, doing maybe the best job of fighting through that right now, and there is a lot on their plates so they are working hard at it."

VanGorder added that the defense is in a development stage. "We have got a long ways to go in all three areas right now," he said.

In other news and notes:

*The Tigers are playing host to their annual clinic for high school coaches. Former FSU coach Bobby Bowden was the keynote speaker on Thursday night. A group of high school coaches spoke on Friday along with VanGorder and Loeffler.

VanGorder noted he hasn't done a coaching clinic in a long time and said his goal was for the coaches to go home with at least one wrinkle that will help their defenses be successful this coming season.

*VanGorder was asked if anybody on the defense has stood out after a week of practice and he said that has not happened.

*Saturday's practice and scrimmage, which is closed to the public, is scheduled to start at 9:45 a.m.

*Defensive end Corey Lemonier, who will be a junior this fall, said that he likes the new defensive system that doesn't include a weakside or strongside defensive end. He noted that is the way most pro defenses do it and that he hopes one day to be able to move to the NFL.

Corey Lemonier is a returning starter.

Asked how much progress the defense has made so far this spring, Lemonier said he is seeing signs the Tigers will be more physical in 2012. Personally, he is working on getting bigger and stronger. He noted that he is 245 pounds now and wants to be at 255 this fall.

Lemonier said that he has been "impressed" by what VanGorder has been doing with the defense, particularly the attention to details and making the players more physical. "We are just buying into it," he said.

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