Defense Holds Upper Hand In Auburn Scrimmage

A report on Auburn's second major scrimmage of spring training is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Defense dominated Auburn's second scrimmage of the spring football drills on Saturday, a session that ran approximately 100 plays at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

With strong pressure on the quarterbacks by a variety of defenders, led by ends Dee Ford and Corey Lemonier, the offense had trouble making big plays or consistently moving the football.

Senior linebacker Daren Bates had a big day on the outside and junior Jake Holland led the defensive charge in the middle. The secondary got a number of good performances led by cornerbacks Robenson Therezie and Chris Davis. Davis also worked as a nickel back.

Wide receiver coach Trooper Taylor was so unhappy with the performance of his players vs. the secondary that he kept his entire group after the scrimmage for extra running and a discussion about the need to improve.

"We had a great day," Therezie said when asked his assessment of the overall performance of the defense. "We did a couple of bad things, too, but as a group we had a great day."

Therezie said the secondary was helped by good play from the front four. "The pass rush was intense," the cornerback noted, however, he added that like every area of the defense there is room for improvement. "It is all about doing the little things right, getting our fits and staying in leverage."

Robenson Therezie

With a week until Auburn's A-Day spring game, Therezie said there is no doubt that the defense has improved since the first practice of spring drills last month. "Absolutely, we are getting better," he said. "

Auburn's head coach declined to say that anything stood out to him immediately after the scrimmage, noting he wanted to study the video of the action to get a better idea of exactly what happened. However, he did say he had reasons to be encouraged.

"I thought we got a lot accomplished out there," Chizik said of the practice that lasted nearly three hours, including work on special teams play.

"After that many snaps it is hard to evaluate exactly where everybody was, but I think the overlying theme was about what we expected. Offensively, we did some good things and did some poor things and vice versa on defense. We will get a chance to evaluate the film and see where we are at.

"The good thing is we got out of it relatively healthy," Chizik added. "They are tired and beat up, but they pushed through it today."

Going into the scrimmage the game plan was to work on the offense establishing the running game and the defense stopping the run. "At times I thought we did it well, at times I thought we did it poor," Chizik said of the offense trying to run the football.

The head coach noted that the running backs need to do a better job of "running north-south" than they did on Saturday, but said he saw signs of improvement compared to the first scrimmage when he was unhappy with the lack of run game production and lack of physical play by the offense.

Chizik also said the offense needs to do a better job of protecting the football. Defensive backs Trent Fisher and Jonathan Rose both had interceptions vs. freshman quarterback Zeke Pike, who received a significant amount of playing time in the scrimmage.

Clint Moseley, who has been battling a sore shoulder, was able to run the entire offense on Saturday, but was rusty and struggled with consistency.

Kiehl Frazier throws a pass in the scrimmage

Kiehl Frazier, who has received many of the snaps with the first team this spring, had the best day of the quarterbacks during a scrimmage that did not feature a lot of big plays by the offense. Several good passes by the sophomore as well as by freshman Pike were dropped.

In other news and notes:

*Safety Demetruce McNeal missed the scrimmage with a knee injury, but the issue doesn't seem to be a serious one. McNeal was walking with just a slight limp on Saturday. Chizik said he isn't sure if the returning starter will be back in time for the spring game.

*Tailback Mike Blakely did not practice. He returned home to Florida for personal reasons, Chizik said.

*Chizik said that senior linebacker Daren Bates, who led the Tigers in tackles last year, is "coming along real well" learning Brian VanGorder's defensive system. "He is still not doing everything perfect, obviously," the coach added. "He is a very intelligent player. He has picked it up real well.

"Jake (middle linebacker Jake Holland) has shown flashes of the same. Not as consistent, but he has shown some good things."

*For the second straight scrimmage early high school graduate Patrick Miller started at right tackle. Redshirt freshman Greg Robinson, who missed the first scrimmage, started at left tackle with the ones.

Patrick Miller enrolled at Auburn in January.

*Fullback Jay Prosch had several bone-jarring blocks in the scrimmage. The transfer from Illinois said he is enjoying being at Auburn and is getting a feel for the new offensive system. He noted that he is still waiting to see if he will be able to play this fall or if he will have to redshirt as a transfer.

*Walk-on tailback Corey Grant got a lot of action and had one of the top offensive plays of the scrimmage. He wasn't known for being a physical player in high school, but he has been working on that. He broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage, made a spin move and broke away on a touchdown of around 15 yards.

Corey Grant runs the ball on Saturday as he gets past defensive tackle Angelo Blackson (55).

*In the red zone period, Trovon Reed caught a touchdown pass from Clint Moseley.

*Chad Slade got work at offensive guard on Saturday after playing tackle in the previous scrimmage.

More Notes And Message Board Discussion:

Saturday Scrimmage Notes, Part 7

Saturday Scrimmage Notes, Part 6

Saturday Scrimmage Notes, Part 5

Saturday Scrimmage Notes, Part 4

Saturday Scrimmage Notes, Part 3

Saturday Scrimmage Notes, Part 2

Sataurday Scrimmage Notes, Part 1

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