For junior free safety Donnay Young, the 9:30 a.m. scrimmage on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium is a chance to reverse his fortunes from last season when he went into the season as the favorite to be a starter before losing the job to the inspired play of 2002 senior Travaris Robinson.
"We are really approaching it like it is a game," Young said on Friday. "The offense got the best of the little scrimmage we had on Wednesday. Coach Chizik (defensive coordinator and secondary coach Gene Chizik) said he is going to call it like it a game so we have to prepare like it is a game and go out there and have fun."
Young, who goes into the scrimmage as the first string free safety, is being challenged for the job by a redshirt freshmen Karibi Dede, Will Herring and Andrew Letts. Young noted that the trio is pushing him. He said the other safeties "are making plays out there" so he will need to perform well to stay at the top of the depth chart.
Donnay Young is shown at Friday's practice.
When asked what he thinks he needs to do on Saturday to keep his first string status, Young said, "Just make plays, make tackles, be in the right position and get everybody in the secondary right. I am just trying to get my technique right. Coach Chizik is always preaching about technique and footwork."
Chizik said he will be keep a close eye on the safeties during the 150-play scrimmage that will feature game officials at the stadium. "I am really evaluating the safety position very hard," he said. "I will make a lot of decisions after tomorrow. (Cornerback) Junior Rosegreen has to up his game tomorrow. He has been hurt with some nagging injuries. He hasn't played very well the past couple of days, but he will come back. He's a fighter."
Roshard Gilyard, a senior, is running No. 1 at strong safety where Rosegreen can also play as well as Young, Letts and Herring. Chizik calls the battle for the safety starting jobs "wide open."
"I am looking for technique and for people who are going to play assignment football," Chizik said. "They need to play their technique within our defense. We won't be difficult. We will be very simple tomorrow."
Offensive coordinator Hugh Nall said he will be watching closely to see how his group functions as a unit. "The biggest thing we want to see is number one, the execution--you know, the communication between the offensive line, the quarterbacks and the receivers using all the checks and then we have got to see what the defense is going to throw at us. We don't know what we will see. This is the first good scrimmage, not knowing what they are going to do. Of course, we have got some things that they won't know what we are going to do."
Injury Update: Senior defensive tackle Spencer Johnson will be held out of the scrimmage on Saturday, Chizik said, due to a pulled muscle in his abdomen...Cornerback Carlos Rogers will see only limited action with a hamstring problem....Linebacker Kevis Burnam, who missed all of practice this week with a swollen knee, is out of action for the scrimmage, but is expected back early next week, Tommy Tuberville said...Freshman offensive tackle King Dunlap, who has been battling a bug the past few days, was held out of the Friday practice and is questionable for the scrimmage...Linebacker Dontarrious Thomas, who has been out of practice all week with a hamstring problem, will not scrimmage...Another linebacker, Karlos Dansby, will see very limited action if he plays...Defensive end Jay Ratliff has several minor nagging injuries and is not expected to scrimmage, but should be back in practice next week...Senior defensive end Reggie Torbor, who practiced on Friday, will be held out of the scrimmage...Wide receiver Silas Daniels is expected to be out for at least another week with a more serious hamstring injury...Offensive tackle Taylor Bourgeois is not expected to scrimmage as he rehabs the problem shoulder that was operated on last fall.
Kevin Greene talks to defensive end Reggie Torbor at Friday's practice.
Tiger Ticket Extra: Chizik said he has been encouraged by the improvement of redshirt freshman Montae Pitts at cornerback in recent practices. Chizik said that he wants two backups ready for the Southern Cal game behind Rosegreen and Rogers. Lamel Ages is likely to be the other second stringer with Pitts...Former Tiger and NFL star defensive end Kevin Greene spent the morning at football practice and said he enjoyed himself a great deal...The plan is to schedule the first offense vs. the first defense and the second offense vs. the second defense. There should also be third stringers and others scrimmaging against each other, too...Defensive lineman Josh Thompson is still rehabbing an arch injury and will not scrimmage...Offensive tackle Marcus McNeill missed Friday's practice to get treatment on his lower back, which tightened after Thursday's practice. He is expected to scrimmage on Saturday, but another offensive lineman, Jarrod Britt, will likely miss the scrimmage as he recovers from a shoulder injury...Despite all the nagging injuries, Tiger coaches say they are hopeful that everyone will be ready to go for the opener in two weeks vs. Southern Cal.