Controlling the tempo in much of the 150-play scrimmage and shutting down the passing game, Coach Gene Chizik said he was proud of the way his guys competed on the very hot and humid morning inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"The one thing that stands out right now is that I think we tried to play hard," Chizik said. "We gave up another big run and that's unacceptable. I don't know what happened on it and we'll try to correct those problems. The effort was good today. Some of the young guys looked like they stepped up. We've got a long way to go, but fortunately we've got two weeks to do it. We'll work these next two weeks to get it right."
One of the questions of concern for Chizik and position Coach Phillip Lolley was how would the cornerbacks respond in their first scrimmage of the fall? The answer was pretty well when talking about starters Junior Rosegreen and Carlos Rogers. Shutting down the first team offense, they showed what they are capable of when the heat is on.
"I feel like the corners today for the most part did a nice job," Chizik said. "I think Junior Rosegreen played about like we expected him to play. Carlos Rogers had a good day. We got some of the young guys in. Lamel Ages had a good day. Montae Pitts did some good things and some bad things. We have to get that corrected. We're ahead of where we were two days ago, but we're certainly not where we need to be. We have to keep moving ahead."
The mistakes are what Lolley kept mentioning following the scrimmage. While the most noticeable was an uncovered receiver left open for an easy touchdown, he said several mental mistakes have to be corrected before some of the younger guys can be counted on in game situations.
"They competed very hard, especially the first group," Lolley said. "You can't win the game with just the first group though. Right now we're looking for four or five guys minimum that have to play.
"Physically the guys gave effort, but you can't make mental mistakes," he added. "We had a young man or two make some mental mistakes. We have to get that corrected in the next two weeks. You can't play unless you're a mental football player."
In addition to the cornerback position, the safety spot have been up the air this fall as well with junior Donnay Young and senior Roshard Gilyard the frontrunners to win the jobs. After going out early in the scrimmage with a sprained shoulder, Gilyard opened the door for a younger player to catch the coach's eye and that's exactly what Will Herring and Karibi Dede did to Chizik.
With six tackles, including several at the line of scrimmage in the running game, Herring showed that he can be the physical player needed to patrol the secondary. Better against the pass, Dede's coverage skills are probably the best of any safety and that will give him a chance to get a great deal of playing time this fall.
Other players that Chizik said had solid scrimmages were defensive ends Stanley McClover and Marquies Gunn. Although defensive end is a position with plenty of depth, Chizik said they are still looking for some of the younger players to step up and make some plays.
"Stanley looked like he was pretty active out there today and Marquis was active today," Chizik said. "We're just trying to get some of those young defensive ends to step up and see if they can give us some reps during the year."