Tigers Looking Forward to A-Day Game

A report on the Auburn football Tigers features news, notes and quotes as the group prepares for their annual spring game.

Auburn, Ala.--Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said that Auburn fans can expect a "game-like" A-Day scrimmage on Saturday while offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said he hopes the contest will give his guys a chance to build confidence after struggling throughout the 2012 season.

Kickoff for the game is set for shortly after 1 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium. It will be televised on CSS.

Johnson noted that the defensive coaches hope to get at least 15 to 30 reps for every player as they continue to evaluate the Tigers. "Early on we want to get them in a little game atmosphere and kind see how the players handle it," he said.

Lashlee said he expects the scrimmage to be competitive and plans to let the two scholarship quarterbacks, Jonathan Wallace and Kiehl Frazier, share the reps as evenly as possible. He also noted the QBs will see action on both the white and blue teams.

When the Tigers wrapped up their miserable 2012 season, they were struggling to move the football. Lashlee said it will be good for his guys if they can have success in the A-Day Game. "A big part of this is trying to regain our edge, our confidence," he said.

"I thought last week was good because we were so much better in scrimmage two than in scrimmage one," he pointed out. "We weren't anywhere near where we need to be. We turned the ball over a little bit. Execution-wise it gave our guys a little bit of a boost.

Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee watches Trovon Reed in Friday's practice.

"We just got through talking about it after practice that (Saturday) for us as coaches is great because not only do we get to evaluate the X's and O's in another scrimmage, there are people in stands now. How are we going to respond?"

After Friday's practice, the 12th of 15 allowed in the spring, Johnson said the defensive coaches are about "80 percent" there for figuring out who the two-deep will be on the dept chart by the end of spring, which will conclude with two practices next week--one in full pads and one in shorts.

"We have some newcomers (signees) who are going to come in and hopefully make an impact," he said. "We have got some guys whose progress was hot and cold during the spring. We think they are good enough to do the job, but at this point they have not been consistent so we are not ready to put it in stone.

"I think we have learned a lot about our players," Johnson said. "I think we have kind of a projection, if you will, of what we would say our two-deep is going to have to be if we lined up at the end of spring practice."

Ellis Johnson is in his first season at Auburn.

Looking at the defense as a whole, Johnson said the defensive tackle positions, the linebackers and the cornerbacks are the most solid areas going into the A-Day Game. The coach said lack of depth at the safety spots is a concern and that is also true at end.

At Friday's practice the Tigers worked sophomore cornerback Josh Holsey at safety with Trent Fisher questionable for the A-Day Game with an ankle problem and Demetruce McNeal not practicing. "Demetruce has got some off the field things he has got to clear up and it is day to day," Johnson said. "He could be ready to roll or he may not be there.

"We are extremely thin at safety," Johnson said. "At defensive end right now we have got one natural pass rusher (Dee Ford). Some of those guys have got to make some progress. I think we have got some depth there. Carter (Kenneth Carter) has had a good spring. He is a natural inside guy...his forte is not on the edge. He has been solid and so has Nosa (Nosa Eguae)."

Dee Ford has extensive experience at end.

Johnson, who coaches the linebackers, said that going into the spring game who will be at the top of the depth chart at those spots is still to be determined. "There has been plenty of competition, but it has been a little more gray than black and white on that."

At the "star" rover spot, Johnson said that Justin Garrett has been the best player at any position on defense, pointing out that moving him from linebacker is a change that is working just liked they hoped it would. He noted that Robenson Therezie, who didn't look natural at cornerback, has been much better at "star," but added that Therezie is well behind Garrett on the depth chart.

Javiie Mitchell, who also moved from linebacker to "star," didn't work out at the new position, but has come on strong at weakside linebacker and is competing for a starting spot at that position despite missing four practices due to a concussion after having a collision with Garrett. Mitchell is back at practice and will play on Saturday.

Lashlee said the offense improved from scrimmage one to scrimmage two and is looking for that trend to continue on Saturday. "We have gotten a little more consistent--we really have," he said. "Our bad plays now aren't as bad as they were early on and our good plays we actually feel like maybe we execute the way it is designed and the way we want to.

"I have no idea of how they will perform (Saturday) in front of everybody," Lashlee said. "I am excited to see how they respond to that."

Lashlee said in practice this week he has seen signs of progress. "Hopefully this Saturday we can see another jump.

Lashlee, who doubles as the coach of the quarterback, said that junior Frazier and sophomore Wallace are improving, but are still competing to end spring drills number one on the depth chart.

"They are both making better decisions," he said. "They are both more accurate, making better throws. I think that comes with just being more comfortable with reps."

Lashlee said both quarterbacks still have plenty of room to improve and added, "I don't think there is a lot of separation right now." He added, "The way we divided it (the teams) should be very competitive."

The coach said the wide receivers are improving and the quarterbacks are developing a comfort level with those players. He said through 12 practices Quan Bray and Jaylon Denson have been the most consistent receivers. The coach also noted that tight ends/H-back group including Brandon Fulse, C.J. Uzomah, Jay Prosch and redshirt freshman Rick Parks have a chance to develop into a team strength.

Bray has also been getting reps as the "wildcat" quarterback along with receiver Trovon Reed.

In other news and notes:

*A-Day tickets, which are $5 apiece, go on sale at the Auburn Arena Ticket Office at 8 a.m. on Saturday. Ticket sales will begin at 11 a.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Fans can enter the stadium at all of the games, but the upper decks will be closed.

*Johnson had praise for Ford after Friday's practice, which lasted two hours in full pads. "I think he has had a really good spring," said the defensive coordinator, who noted the senior end has adapted well to the new defensive alignment.

*The cornerback play has been one of the brightest spots this spring, said Johnson, who noted that Ryan White is making a push for playing time at the field corner spot.

"The defensive coordinator said that tackles Angelo Blackson, Jeffrey Whitaker, Gabe Wright and Ben Bradley are making progress. He noted that Blackson missed some practice time with a stinger and that like many juco transfers Bradley struggled early in practice, but added that Bradley has made progress in recent practices.

"He is playing with a little more mental toughness and handling assignments better," the coach said. "He was really way behind the first week or so, but Ben has had a good spring. I think he is definitely going to be a player for us we can count on."

Bradley has the potential to be a starter at tackle, which Johnson said could be a "deep" position. "I haven't seen any wow dominating plays inside there, but I?think we have a pretty good offensive line and that is one of the reasons. But I like our tackles."

*Redshirt freshman Tyler Nero has made progress, but has had limited contact work because of a shoulder problem, said Johnson, who noted that another backup, tackle Jabrian Niles, is making progress.

*Lashlee said that offensive guards Alex Kozan, a redshirt freshman, and redshirt sophomore Devonte Danzey are "coming on" pushing for first team status. "He had a really good scrimmage on Saturday," the coach said of Danzey, a juco transfer. Another redshirt freshman guard, Jordan Diamond, is making progress, too, Lashlee said.

*The Tiger Fan Fest featuring a punt, pass and kick contest, 40-yard dash, inflatable games, face painting and more will be located on the football practice fields beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Entrance to the field is off Biggio Drive.

*Tiger Transit shuttles will run both on and off-campus on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. the service will run from the following off-campus locations: Village Mall, AU Airport (Fly-Ins Only), Sam's Club, Duck Sam Ford, City Softball Complex, (transits will NOT run from TigerTown). Shuttles will run from the following on-campus location: War Eagle Way, Facilities Division, Lem Morrison and Donahue, Woodfield and Donahue, West Parking Lot.

*Following the game on Saturday a large crowd is expected to attend a downtown ceremony at Toomer's Corner, where the poisoned oak trees will be celebrated before they are removed. Gus Malzahn and former Auburn athletic director David Housel will be two of the speakers at the event.

*Also on Saturday the Tigers will be the host for a track and field invitational that will run throughout the day at the Hutsell-Rosen Track.

*Lashlee said that he is seeing more consistency from wideout receiver Sammie Lashlee, a sophomore who can make the "wow" plays. He said that Ricardo Louis has the ability to make big plays, too.

*Tre Mason, who has been bothered by an ankle sprain, is expected to compete in the A-Day Game.

More Notes And Discussion:

Notes, Part One

Notes, Part Two

Notes, Part Three

Notes, Part Four

Notes, Part Five

Notes, Part Six

Notes, Part Seven

Notes, Part Eight

Notes, Part Nine

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories