Jauntavius Johnson (62), a redshirt freshman defensive tackle, does a drill in Tuesday's practice. Also pictured are Carl Lawson (55), Marlon Davidson (55) and Montravius Adams (1).
Auburn, Ala.--With a dozen practices in the books and just three more to go, with one being Saturday’s annual A-Day scrimmage, new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said it has been a back to basics spring for Auburn's defensive linemen, linebackers and secondary.
The veteran football coach, who made the move from LSU to Auburn this season, said he wants to see that show up on Saturday when the Tigers go on public display. Steele pointed out that “technique, toughness and tackling” will be major themes for his group.
Steele said those go hand-in-hand with the overall major theme for the defense this spring. “We are going to play with extreme effort,” he said. “We are not going to tolerate less than the best efforts you have.
“They are starting to buy into that--it’s been a process,” the coach said. “We are starting to see the results of that. This past Saturday in the scrimmage it was very evident that mantra was a focus. It is kind of hard for it not to be when they have heard it as much as they have heard it.
Tim Irvin, who is competing for playing time at the nickel position, is shown at Tuesday's practice.
“We have also been very diligent trying to train the technique and fundamentals of the game and not trying to out-scheme everything,” he pointed out. “We are trying to be technically sound in our fundamentals and eye control, just the base rudiments of the game developing players, both young and old. There are some of them that have played a long time. You are starting to see that show up.
“The other thing we are big on is putting a major emphasis on tackling and getting the ball knocked down,” Steele noted. “When you create effort you get gang tackling and it is easier to tackle with a bunch of guys than it is with one, but we are making progress in that regard.”
Daniel Carlson (38) works with his kicking along with holder Tyler Stovall (29) at Tuesday’s practice.
In other news and notes:
*The Tigers will return to the practice field on Thursday for their final tune-up prior to Saturday’s A-Day Game. The contest will be televised on the SEC Network with kickoff set for shortly after 3 p.m. CDT at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
*A redshirt freshman competing for a starting spot at cornerback, Jamel Dean, is looking to take over for 2015 senior Jonathan Jones, who is hoping to make an NFL roster this year. Dean won praise from Steele for his performance in Saturday’s scrimmage and improvement this spring.
Dean is a transfer from Ohio State who sat out last season. Javaris Davis, another redshirt freshman, is competing for a starting spot at cornerback opposite 2015 All-SEC Freshman Carlton Davis. Steele said that Carlton Davis, a player who was significantly better in the second half of the season than he was early last year, is continuing to improve.
Steele said of Carlton Davis, "You go to that emotionally maturity and it's really, really important at the corner position because you've got to be able to play the next play. That's a hard job. You're out there on an island and it's hard. He has the physical tools. He's very technically sound. Wesley (secondary coach Wesley McGriff) is a very good teacher. I think he's really bought into that style and he's progressed very nicely."
*An even younger player who praise from the coordinator is Marlon Davidson, an early high school graduate from Greenville High School who is pushing for first team status at end. Davidson, an Under Armour All-American, is also lining up inside at tackle in pass rushing packages.
Quarterback John Franklin (5) is a transfer from junior college who is looking to position himself for playing time this fall.
*Another early graduate, cornerback John Broussard, needs to develop more physically, Steele pointed out, but noted that the former Central High of Phenix City standout has a “good skill set.”
Marcus Davis, who was Auburn's top punt returner, works on that skill in Tuesday's practice.