Defense Gets Handled In Scrimmage

The Auburn defense didn't have a good day as the offense had its way all day long in Saturday's scrimmage, the second of the spring.

Auburn, Ala.--The defense is usually the victor in spring scrimmages, but that wasn't even close to the truth in Auburn's scrimmage on Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Coach Al Borges' offense controlled the tempo from start to finish and left Coach Gene Chizik shaking his head afterwards regarding the play of his unit. Allowing over 300 yards rushing and nearly 270 in passing, Chizik said his unit was beaten to the punch and just didn't perform well.

"That was probably about the worst we've played since I've been here," Chizik said. "The offense is definitely getting better and that's good for them. We didn't get any better today. We have a lot of work to do and we have five days to get it done. We're going to do everything we can, we have to get some of these young guys playing together. We have to answer a bunch of question marks. Once we get that answered we'll be a better defense, but right now we have too many of them."

Defensively the problems were everywhere as a banged-up front four had trouble stopping the run and couldn't get any pressure on the quarterback, recording just five sacks from the unit in nearly 200 plays of offense in Saturday's scrimmage. Injuries continue to hamper the front line as Doug Langenfeld was held out of action because of headaches associated with a mild concussion and a sprained knee. Bret Eddins sat out much of the day with a "burner" in his shoulder, forcing Tez Doolittle to move to end where he had never practiced before.

The lack of a push up front left the secondary exposed somewhat on Saturday and quarterback Jason Campbell and the offense took advantage of it, throwing early and often for good yardage. Campbell completed 13-25 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns and Chizik said that much of that was due to poor play at corner opposite Carlos Rogers.

"I think we have to find some guys, first of all starting at corner," Chizik said. "I thought we were a little bit better than we were today. That proved not to be true. We have one corner that we know can play. We just have to find a second one right now and possibly a third one.

Carlos Rogers continues to play good football this spring for the Tigers at cornerback.

"We have to get some young defensive linemen into the mix," Chizik added. "We have to step it up there. It's everywhere really, linebackers as well. We have to find the right combination at linebacker. We've moved some guys around. It's all levels. I can't really point out one specific thing. It's the whole defense."

Despite all of the concerns on the defensive side of the ball, perhaps none are as big as what happened when the teams lined up in goal line situations. Putting the ball on the 10-yard line, the offense scored in one play on two consecutive drives to put a fitting end to a dominant session for the blue shirts. Chizik said that was something he didn't like seeing and they're going to work on correcting those problems right away.

"That was very discouraging," Chizik said. "That was a very discouraging way to end it. We have to re-evaluate what we're doing on the goal line and change some things for sure."

One reason Auburn's defense has struggled at times this spring is seeing a new offense for the first time in practice. Using a variety of sets and plays, the offense has been effective at keeping their defensive teammates off balance and Chizik said this defense is one that is hard to get a read on because of the diversity it brings.

"It gives you a lot of different wrinkles that you have to prepare for in the passing game and the running game," Chizik said. "It's a lot of bunch, which is tough to defend and why everybody is going to it. They're just getting better everyday. It wasn't fancy. They didn't run the ball fancy, they just ran the ball.

"They keep you off balance and do a great, great job with screens and draws. They have the bunch package in there and that's tough. I'm glad we're seeing in right now and we certainly haven't stopped it. We need to keep on seeing it."

Linebackers Mayo Sowell and Antarrious Williams led the way for the defense with nine tackles each while cornerback Lamel Ages did some good work in the secondary and finished with seven tackles. He also showed a knack for getting to the quarterback on blitzes out of the dime package and added two sacks. Defensive end Stanley McClover added seven tackles and half a sack on the day.

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