Coaches See Progress at Friday's Practice

Comments from the coordinators plus news and notes from Auburn's Friday football practice are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--The coordinators said Friday's football practice was a step in the right direction tuning up for Auburn's second major scrimmage of the spring that is scheduled for Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Coach Rhett Lashlee said he saw improvement from quarterbacks Jonathan Wallace and Kiehl Frazier plus more energy and polish from the offense. "We got better today," he said.

Lashlee wants the trend to continue on Saturday. "We are looking for a big jump," he said. "We have got to have guys who are mentally tougher than we have been all spring from not only the way they execute the plays, but to be able to go longer and not got tired. We want them to be able to execute when they are tired and keep the tempo up when they are tired.

"I want guys to make some plays," the coach added. "We have had times where maybe our execution has been solid. I want some wideouts to make some great catches, some running backs to break some tackles, a quarterback to make a great throw. We need some wow plays to kind of spark us."

J.B. Grimes puts his offensive linemen through a blocking sled drill on Friday.

Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson continued his spring training theme of praising the cornerbacks as a group and "star" rover Justin Garrett on an individual basis.

Robenson Therezie, who is getting a look at the "star" position this week, also won praise for his play from Johnson after the Tigers wrapped up the ninth of their 15 spring practice dates.

"He seems more comfortable up near the line of scrimmage," Johnson said of Therezie, who is also getting a look as a return man.

"He is a speed player, he is a contact player," Johnson said of the 5-9, 202 junior. "You would like to have a 6-1, 215-pound ‘star,' but right now he fits it perfectly. I have really been tickled to death with his progress."

The Tigers worked out for two hours on Friday. Like they have been doing all week, the Tigers were in full pads.

"The guys really had a lot of energy," said Lashlee, who noted that he agreed with head coach Gus Malzahn that the previous practice on Wednesday left a lot to be desired.

"The guys really had a lot of energy," the offensive coordinator said. "I thought our guys competed, even when maybe we were not executing or not making the play our guys really competed hard."

Lashlee said he sees "flashes" of what he is looking for from the offense as far as execution and tempo is concerned, but wants more. "It is one thing to play fast, but you have got to play fast and play smart. That is the consistency we need. We are inconsistent still."

The coordinator said he has challenged the offensive players to make a "big jump" in performance in the remaining practices this spring.

Lashlee specifically praised three offensive players for their progress this spring--wide receivers Quan Bray and Jaylon Denson and center Reese Dismukes.

Commenting on Dismukes, Lashlee said, "In the nine practices I?have had with him, and the short amount of time I have been here, Reese has been solid. He is the guy on the field who does everything you ask him to do. He is a really good player and he executes at a high level. He is a guy out there every day who is vocal. He is trying to lead the guys, especially the OL?up front."

Lashlee said that despite Dismukes getting in the doghouse with the former coaching staff and being suspended for the 2012 opener, it is "a new day now" and that the junior is getting the job done. "From what I know now he is a guy I can trust," Lashlee stated. "That is a guy who is trying to do everything we ask him to do."

Lashlee also said that he has been impressed with the looks the offense has been getting from the defense this spring.

Commenting on his defense, Johnson said the Tigers were "lethargic" on Wednesday, but saw improvement on Friday. "I thought they really bounced back and had a good practice today," the coach said.

The coordinator noted that the defense made some mistakes against some new formations the offense was using, including the "wildcat."

Scott Fountain makes a point during Friday's practice. Fountain coaches the tight ends/H-backs and is special teams coordinator.

In other news and notes:

*Redshirt freshman Javiie Mitchell is expected to miss scrimmage two with a concussion that has kept him sidelined this week. Mitchell began the spring at the "star" rover position, but was moved to linebacker where he worked last year. "He looked very natural moving back inside from the ‘star' position," said Johnson, who is playing Mitchell at the weakside linebacker position.

*The praise continued on Friday for first team "star" Justin Garrett. Johnson said he believes the junior will be "a great player" at the position. The past two seasons he was a little-used linebacker.

*Johnson said that senior end Dee Ford has been the most productive defensive lineman this spring. He noted that senior Kenneth Carter "has done pretty well" learning his assignments at end after playing tackle in previous seasons.

"I don't know if he is a natural end," Johnson said. "He has played extremely well for his first time moving out there and I think Rodney (defensive line coach Rodney Garner) has been pleased with him. At this time he is holding down the No. 1 spot at the right end."

The coach noted that pass rushing isn't Carter's strength, but said the senior has shown "some pretty good technique as an outside pass rusher." Johnson added that Carter doesn't have the quickness of ends Ford, Justin Delaine or Keymiya Harrell, who is sidelined with an injury.

*Johnson noted that senior Jeffrey Whitaker has been the most consistent defensive tackle and is pushing for a starting job along with Gabe Wright and Angelo Blackson. Blackson has been limited by a shoulder problem this spring, but could see some action in Saturday's scrimmage.

*The returning starter at tailback, Tre Mason, could be back in action soon as he recovers from an ankle sprain. "He is fine," said Lashlee, who noted the coaches want to get him healthy instead of rushing him back onto the field. "We want to get guys back 100 percent," the coach said, noting it has been good to see Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant get extensive action at tailback.

Running back Corey Grant runs through a drill at Friday's practice.

*QBs Frazier and Wallace will share the reps evenly in scrimmage two, according to Lashlee. "They have pretty even," he said, adding, "I think they are getting better."

*Lashlee said he likes the way the guards have been competing with Chad Slade, Devonte Danzey, Alex Kozan and Jordan Diamond trying to earn starting spots. Slade is a returning starter.

Kris Frost is making a push for playing time at linebacker as a redshirt freshman.

More Notes And Discussion:

Friday Notes, Part One

Friday Notes, Part Two

Friday Notes, Part Three

Friday Notes, Part Four

Friday Notes, Part Five

Friday Notes, Part Six

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