Focus On the Backups For Scrimmage Two

News, notes and quotes from Auburn's second scrimmage of spring football are featured in this report.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's second football scrimmage of the spring was short on big plays from the offense and long on giving backup players more opportunities to show Gus Malzahn and his coaching staff what they can do.

"Most definitely the defense," senior safety Jermaine Whitehead said when asked what side of the line of scrimmage performed best on Saturday.

"I think we made a lot of big plays and we would have scored a lot of points off the turnovers we got," he said, noting interceptions made by fellow safety Derrick Moncrief and last season's leading tackler, linebacker Cassanova McKinzy.

Jermaine Whitehead

"I think my defense did pretty good today," Whitehead said. "We have got a lot of work to do, a lot of things to look at on tape."

Saturday's practice, which was the ninth of the 15th allowed during spring workouts, was the first one the Tigers held at Jordan-Hare Stadium since last season.

"We did half a practice, half a scrimmage," Malzahn said. "With the older guys they did the first half where we did a lot of thud (contact, but no tackling to the ground). With the actual scrimmage part, we let a lot of the younger guys go.

Really, it was an emphasis on building depth," he said. "There were some of the guys that were starters last year, that we knew a lot about, that didn't participate in the scrimmage."

As one of the proven veterans, Whitehead noted he didn't get a lot of time on the field during the scrimmage. "I didn't really get a lot of work," he said. "We got our work before the scrimmage in the regular part of practice. It (the scrimmage) was more for our younger guys to build our depth and find out who can help us--strain those guys a little bit and push them to be better players."

Asked if any of the young players stood out, Malzahn said, "It is hard right now to single out any one person. As a group all the guys that redshirted are getting a chance to show what they can do.

"From my standpoint, they all have very good attitudes," Malzahn added. "They are coachable, they are wanting to do what is asked. There is not one guy I can say right now that just stands out in that group. That's not a bad thing."

One of the major changes in the scrimmage two compared to scrimmage one is that the returning starter at right tackle, Avery Young, moved inside to right guard while Patrick Miller worked with the ones at right tackle. Miller has been splitting time with the ones at left tackle with Shon Coleman.

Avery Young opened the 2013 season as a backup, but took over from Miller as the starter at right tackle. Miller took over as the starter from Young in 2012 after Young was injured and redshirted.

Young said he thought the Tigers had a productive scrimmage. "It went well. It went like a regular good practice. There was a lot of improvement going on. We are just trying to stay on track."

Commenting on playing guard, he said, "I kind of like that. I am starting to get attached to it. I don't feel like it is a bad move. I have a year under my belt playing tackle and it is good to show I am versatile on the offensive line. I am willing to do anything to help the team out."

The returning starter at right guard, senior Chad Slade, got practice time at left guard along with returning starter Alex Kozan.

Tackles Montravius Adams and Gabe Wright continued to receive practice time at defensive end. The Tigers are short on numbers at those spots with the graduation losses combined with injuries among the returnees.

On Saturday another injury hit at end as Keymiya Harrell hurt his knee rushing the passer in the scrimmage. Harrell missed the entire 2013 season with a knee problem.

Returning starter LaDarius Owens is out all spring with a broken bone in his foot while Elijah Daniel continues to be very limited by a groin pull suffered the first week of practice.

"I feel good about playing defensive end," Adams said. "Wherever coach wants me to be...wherever he puts me in to help the team, that is what I am going to do."

Adams said he expects to play end in games this fall and noted that his position coach, Rodney Garner, told him that will likely happen. "I know a lot of people don't think I can do it, but I am here to prove them wrong," the sophomore said.

The Tigers will begin their fourth week of practice on Tuesday. The annual A-Day spring game is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 19th.

Commenting on where the Tigers are as a team, Malzahn said, "Compared to last spring, we are way ahead as far as that goes, but the No. 1 thing we have talked about is we can't lose our edge. We have got to keep that physical, hard-nosed approach. We have been talking through that.

"The standard as far as execution is higher," Malzahn added. "The expectations are (higher), and they should be. That kind of was the moral of the story today was we have to get better the next two weeks."

Auburn Scrimmage Notes, Part 7

Auburn Scrimmage Notes, Part 6

Auburn Scrimmage Notes, Part 5

Auburn Scrimmage Notes, Part 4

Auburn Scrimmage Notes, Part 3

Auburn Scrimmage Notes, Part 2

Auburn Scrimmage Notes, Part 1

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