Grant Adds Spark In Auburn's Second Scrimmage

A report on Auburn's second major football scrimmage of the spring includes news, notes and quotes as Coach Gus Malzahn's Tigers wrapped up another week of workouts.

Auburn, Ala.--With tailback Corey Grant leading the way with a pair of touchdown runs, the offense made strides in Auburn's second major scrimmage of the spring on Saturday.

Grant, a redshirt junior from Opelika, said, "We came together more today. I think we get a little better feel for the offense and we were clicking more on offense than we were last week.

"We have a lot of areas we can improve on, but overall I thought it was a good day," said Grant, who originally signed with Alabama before transferring closer to home to play at Auburn.

Grant noted tha the Tigers were a more smoothly operating group on offense and he enjoyed being a part of it. "I felt like I had a decent day," said the running back who showed the coaches his toughness by practicing all week with a wrist injury suffered a week earlier in the first major scrimmage."

Corey Grant was a two-time 100-meter champion in high school.

Grant's longest run was close to 50 yards for a score. "I really give the credit to the offensive line and the receivers for the two touchdowns because I was really untouched," he said.

With Tre Mason nursing an ankle sprain, Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne are the only other two scholarship tailbacks on the roster. Both are getting a lot of work. That is encouraging to Grant, a player who only got nine carries last season.

"It was tough to sit around on the bench and watch knowing I was working hard, working my butt off, but it never came around for me to get in," he said of the disappointing 2012 season. "I think everything is going to work out this year."

The Tigers practiced for close to 2 1/2 hours on Saturday including their 86-play scrimmage that was conducted at a very high tempo.

"Corey Grant made some good runs," head coach Gus Malzahn said. "That is kind of what stood out to me. He had some success, which was good to see. He is a very hard worker and does a lot of dirty work. He made a couple of good runs."

Malzahn noted that the Tigers recruited Grant out of Opelika High School when the coach was AU's offensive coordinator. "He has got the potential to fit in our offense," Malzahn said. "He can flat-out run. Any time you have a guy who can run you can do some different things with him and try to get the ball to him in space."

Asked about how the team is progressing now that the Tigers have completed two-thirds of their spring practice days, Malzahn said, "We are getting better. Like I told them at the very end, I am more concerned about our attitudes, our work ethic, our approach, how we respond to adversity, how we respond to successs.

"The X's and O's after spring you will be able to really settle in and concentrate on X's and O's, but big-picture I am more worried about our team chemistry--how we react to certain situations. I would say we are improving up to this point."

Offensive tackle Patrick Miller (51) drills against defensive end Dee Ford (95) on Saturday.

Malzahn said the Tigers should get a lot out of Saturday's scrimmage after grading and reviewing what took place. "We are learning more every time out there," he said. "Our coaches are going to have a lot of different situations and lot of different guys to evaluate, which will be really good for us."

Linebacker Anthony Swain tackles tailback Cameron Artis-Payne in Saturday's scrimmage.

The head coach decided the evaluation time the Tigers did after last week's scrimmage was important enough to repeat it again. He postponed Monday's practice in favor of extended meeting time with the players, meaning the Tigers will have their final two spring practices following the April 20th A-Day Game. "We should improve even more after this scrimmage," Malzahn said.

As they have been doing in every practice this spring, the Tigers worked on special teams. On Saturday there was live work on field goals and punts. Malzahn said that senior kicker Cody Parkey and senior punter Steven Clark are performing well.

"We have spent a lot of time on special teams," Malzahn said. "Coach (Scott) Fountain is doing a great job of implementing that. He is in the same mode. He is trying to evaluate our guys--who our returners should be...snappers, holders, kickers, everything that goes with that."

Steven Clark punts in Saturday's practice.

Senior linebacker Jake Holland agreed with Grant that the Tigers made progress in scrimmage two. "All in all I?felt like it was a good scrimmage," Holland said. "Running to the ball we got a lot better--fewer loafs this scrimmage, which was a good thing. I felt as a defense we were able to communicate better and make plays."

Even though he saw signs of improvement, Holland said he thought the day belonged to the offense. "I think the offense out-played the defense," he said, although he noted in general it "was pretty even."

In other news and notes:

*The Tigers will return to the field on Wednesday for their 11th of 15 spring practices. The annual A-Day Game is scheduled for Saturday, April 20th at 1 p.m. CDT. Malzahn said the coaches will try to make A-Day as much like a regular game as they can.

*Defensive tackle Angleo Blackson, who has been limited this spring by an injury, was able to scrimmage on Saturday. He was held out of the one a week earlier.

Wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig is shown at Saturday's practice.

*Malzahn said a big emphasis of the spring has been to develop a physical style of play on the offensive and defensive lines. "I am sure with our guys their bodies are probably talking to them, but we have got to get our hard-nosed edge back and that is where it starts."

Notes And Discussion:

Saturday Notes, Part One

Saturday Notes, Part Two

Saturday Notes, Part Three

Saturday Notes, Part Four

Saturday Notes, Part Five

Jonathan Wallace throws a pass in Saturday's scrimmage.

Saturday Notes, Part Six

Saturday Notes, Part Seven

Saturday Notes, Part Eight

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