Defense Takes A Beating In A-Day Game

Coach Gene Chizik had very few nice things to say about his defense after Saturday's A-Day game.

Auburn, Ala.--The old coaching proverb says that the defense should be stronger than the offense during spring practice, but in the last week that hasn't been the case for the Auburn Tigers. That trend continued Saturday in the A-Day game as a watered down defense was taken to the woodshed by an offense that clicked on all cylinders despite not showing much themselves. Coach Gene Chizik said the performance was one that he hopes he won't see anytime next season.

"Right now we're not getting through to them or whatever," Chizik said. "Luckily we've got five months to get it straightened out. If I'm saying this same thing in September then we've got real problems. Right now I'm just very disappointed. When you take a few guys out of the mix it changes the whole complexion of your team and that's not good."

After playing just a few plays, starters Bret Eddins and Travis Williams along with cornerback Carlos Rogers and safety Junior Rosegreen sat out much of Saturday's A-Day game and the result was a whipping from the offense. The White team rushed for 140 yards and passed for 206 more with an average of 7.4 yards per play. The Blue team was almost as good with 99 yards rushing and 129 yards passing, averaging 5.4 yards per play.

One of the few bright spots on defense was the play of linebacker Antarrious Williams. The speedster who has moved from safety to linebacker this spring finished the day with six tackles. Included in that are two big hits in the backfield on running back Tre Smith. Chizik said the play of Williams was the only bright spot on a miserable day defensively.

Antarrious Williams

"Antarrious Williams is the only thing, in my mind, that caught anybody's attention whatsoever that looked like a football player," Chizik said. "He came through and had a couple of big plays in there. He looked like Auburn defense is supposed to look. Everybody else looked like it was a junior high team. That's my evaluation."

Other than a few zone blitzes mixed in during the day, the defense played things straight-up with base calls and very few disguises. That didn't work well as the offense controlled the flow from the opening drive. Chizik said the experience was more than an experiment to see how his team responds and they failed miserably.

"We played mainly base defense," Chizik said. "But when you can't stop the run in base defense and you can't stop the pass in base defense then you can't rely on blitzes and pressure to fill those voids enough. In base defense you ought to be able to at least slow them down. It looks like they scored on every drive. We have a long way to go."

Chizik and his staff have two practices left this spring before the Tigers turn their attention to the fall. It's pretty obvious that those two days will be spent working on fundamentals and learning, because Chizik said that's where this team is behind. A firm believer in studying football and what it takes to be a great player, Chizik said this group has a lot of work to do before next year's opener.

"We have a lot to learn," Chizik said. "David Irons has a lot of talent, but he learned today that you can get embarrassed real quick in front of 87,000 because talent isn't what it takes in this league. It takes talent, football smarts, it takes technique. Everybody is as good or better than you are. We have some guys that have some talent, but so does everybody else. We have to get them in the right spot. We can't pass rush, we can't fit the run and we can't play pass defense. That's 0-3 right now as far as I'm concerned."

One positive for the Tigers was the pass rush. The defense collected five sacks on the day with Marquies Gunn collecting two and Montavian Collier, Stanley McClover and Todd Hughes adding one each. Collier was tops in tackles on the white team with four along with Williams while Derrick Graves led the blue team with four tackles and one pass break-up.

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