Veteran Defender Discusses Spring Training

A defensive starter gives his impressions of Auburn's defense now that the Tigers have completed spring practice.

Auburn, Ala.--Jordan Bret Eddins knows Auburn football and specifically Auburn defense. His father Liston, who played defensive end for the Tigers from 1973-1975, started engraining it in him early and even named his son in honor of the late Tigers' coach Ralph "Shug" Jordan.

So, with all of the history lessons his father taught him and three seasons and a redshirt year of playing on the Auburn defense behind him, the 6-5, 267-pound junior should have a good feel for how the 2004 defense is developing.

"We would need about five or six more scrimmages to take the momentum back," says Eddins, who notes that the offense held the upper hand through most of the 15 spring practice days.

A bright spot for the defense was an improved performance in the final scrimmage of the spring last week. "We needed to come out and at least play decently, which I think we did, but we still have a long way to go," Eddins tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "We still need to have a lot of improvement from a lot of guys to get back to the kind of defense that we played last year so we are just going to work on that."

Defensive end Bret Eddins takes on a block from Marcus McNeill during a spring scrimmage.

The senior did not see a lot of scrimamge time during this spring. That was due to minor injuries and the need for the younger players to get more reps. "It is kind of tough," Eddins says about the lack of time on the field with the first defense this spring. "You get out there and you kind of get used to helping coach a little bit when you are hurt. Then you get out there and start playing again--it took me a little while to get used to the speed again. But, once we picked it all up, I think the defense played better in the last scrimmage, but the offense gave us some vanilla stuff. We still have a long way to go."

In the last practice of the spring, Eddins was healthy and the coaches wanted to see what the defense could do so he and the other returning defensive starters got plenty of scrimmage time that day.

"It's fun to go out there with the group of guys you know you are going to be playing with in the fall," Eddins notes. "Then when Coach (Gene) Chizik said we are going to kind of open it up, it is a lot more fun than running the base stuff every time and having the offense run all over you. It was good to get out there with everybody and kind of run around some."

Eddins' position coach, Terry Price, says that despite the defensive ends having a lot of work to do before the season starts he was somewhat encouraged by their final spring session. "It has been a long spring," he says. "We struggled a lot with the young guys trying to learn--getting our technique down and just playing a bunch of guys who haven't played a lot of football. We have made a lot of progress. We have still got a long, long, long way to go until we are ready to play in an SEC game, but I was proud of how they competed in that last scrimmage and that is the biggest thing I was proud of."

Eddins also says that even though there is still a lot of work to do up front, he has seen good signs from the defensive line over the course of the spring.

"Like Coach Price said earlier, Stanley (McClover) and Marquies (Gunn) have come a long way in just the 15 practices that we have had of just picking up on the fundamentals and just the little things," Eddins notes. "With those two they are so athletic their potential is just limitless, really. You have got a lot of those young guys on the inside that really did well this spring like Josh Thompson. T.J. (Jackson) and Tim Duckworth aren't young, but they still did a good job and Wayne Dickens did, too. Hopefully, if Doug (Langenfeld) and I can do our part at the strong end the D-line can hold our own."

A big key for the Tigers and the senior defensive end this fall will be staying healthy and that is something Eddins says he is really focusing on doing. "Other than little nicks and bruises that you will have all the time, I would like to say that I am about 100 percent," he notes. "Going into the season it is not quite as physical as spring is and if you can just be lucky and stay healthy that is the main thing. You just work hard to be lucky and stay healthy and if that will happen with everybody I think we will have a good shot this year."


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