The Gandyman Can

Steve Gandy, who had a big day in Auburn's second scrimmage of the season, talks about his progression on the football field.

Auburn, Ala.-- Steve Gandy, who is making a strong push for playing time at safety with his performance during the spring, followed up a strong day of practice on Friday with an even better day of practice in the Tigers' second spring scrimmage on Saturday.

The redshirt freshman, who played well in coverage in a physical practice on Friday afternoon and intercepted a pass, stepped up his efforts even more on Saturday as he recorded five tackles, two of which were big physical hits on tight ends, and picked off a Blake Field pass that he returned 30 yards for a touchdown.

"I forget what coverage we were in, but the quarterback rolled and I kind of had a feeling--I came from the backside because the other safety jumped the shadow route," Gandy explained about the interception. "I came from the backside and I just saw it before he even threw it. I knew it was going to go there and I stepped in front of it and I caught it and just tried to get to the house."

Gandy returns an interception for a touchdown during Saturday's scrimmage.

On his way to the house, Gandy ran into some interference from Field and Lee Guess at about the two-yard line. However, he easily won the battle and was able to punch the ball in for the score and Gandy said he enjoyed the extra contact. "I was fixing to shake Blake because most of the time they don't want you hitting the quarterback, but he kind of stepped up like he wanted to get a little bit and I gave him a little bit so that was how that was."

Gandy attributes his ability to step up on the field this spring to his continued work on the mental aspects of the game, which he said allows him to play the game at a different level. "I was just trying to go full speed and learn more of the defense as we go along," he notes.

"I am learning and building and now I am trying to play full speed and do some of the things that I think I can do. I still messed up some, but I kind of went more full speed today then I did the first day because I knew a whole lot more about what I was doing."

The safety added that being able to improve his game mentally has made stepping on the field a lot more enjoyable. "It is real exciting and it is going to get better as I continue to learn and stuff, but it is getting better every week," Gandy said. "It is pretty fun once you know what you are doing because you can just go around and play full speed and that is what makes the good players, the players that know where they are at."

Defensive coordinator David Gibbs said that it was easy to notice the way the redshirt freshman was playing on the field during Saturday's scrimmage session. "He had a pretty good scrimmage today from what I saw," Gibbs noted. "You could see him hitting people, now whether or not he was aligned right or covered the right people, I don't know yet. A couple of times I saw him out of position, but anytime a guy flashes like that in the open field that is a big plus because you get to see his speed and explosion and all of those things."

The Tigers' secondary coach added, however, that the safety still has plenty of work to do to be ready to step onto the field in a gameday situation. "He has had a decent spring," Gibbs said. "He is a young guy that didn't get many reps last year and he is developing. He has got a long way to go, but he has got to keep fighting. Obviously he wants to play and if he wants to play he has just got to keep getting better and better."

Gandy also said that he knows he has a lot of things to work on, but added that even with plenty of work ahead, his confidence is growing day by day. "There is still a lot of little stuff that I need to work on like getting lined up, etc. and our checks, but right now I am feeling real confident and comfortable and it is getting better and better each day of practice," he explained. "I am stepping up and doing something better each day so I am feeling pretty comfortable now."

He said that one thing that helps make him feel more comfortable back there is the leadership role that Will Herring and Eric Brock have taken on throughout spring drills.

"When, I have a question and Coach Gibbs is not around Will is the first man I go ask," Gandy said. "Will knows about the position really well and he helps me out a lot and Brock, he will see something out there going on and I will ask him what it is and he will tell me and vice versa. Also, It is good to play behind someone like Will so that you can learn the defense and that helps out a lot."

The talented defender also noted that having fellow redshirt freshman and close friend Tristan Davis on the field with him at the other safety position a lot of the time is certainly helpful as well.

"Yeah, me and Tristan are real good friends outside of football," Gandy noted. "We live at the same apartment complex and we are always hanging out with each other. We are talking about football all the time, every day probably. Stuff like what is going on, what happened to him in practice, what I saw and stuff like that. And that makes it real comfortable having one of your homeboys right there beside you and playing with you.

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