First Scrimmage An Up And Down Affair For Defense

Defensive coordinator David Gibbs and senior linebacker Antarrious Williams talk about what they saw out of the AU defense during the first scrimmage of fall practice.

Auburn, Ala.--For the Auburn defense Wednesday's first fall scrimmage was a day filled with ups and downs, and the down side was the first to show its head as the offense opened up the scrimmage with a 68-yard pass to Kenny Irons and followed that up with a 30-yard burst from Carl Stewart.

Defensive coordinator David Gibbs said following the scrimmage that was certainly not how he wanted his group to kick off the session. "Shoot, they made two big plays on us right off the bat, which can't happen," he explained. "I told those guys if we start out against Georgia Tech like that it is going to be 14-0 and we can't put our offense in that position. That was disappointing "

However, the defensive coordinator added that he was impressed with his unit's ability to bounce back and show a good bit of improvement. "I thought after that we settled down and played pretty good defense, but again we have got to find a way to play consistently from the first play on," Gibbs said. "You hate that you give up a big play right off the bat, but that is football sometimes.

"We regrouped pretty good and I think that has to do with our leadership," he continued. "Next time we have got to be a little less predictable early on in the scrimmage."

Senior outside linebacker Antarrious Williams noted that he was not certainly not happy with the way things got started on Wednesday either, but added that he felt like the mistakes that were made are easily correctable. "The defense didn't come out as fast as we wanted to come out, but we are just working to get better and better and take it one play at a time," he said. "As a defense we will pick it up and we will get better so we are not worried."

Despite the slow start, there were a number of bright spots for the defense during the scrimmage, including the play of senior middle linebacker Travis Williams, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries and the overall play of the defensive backs.

Williams, who made nine stops with three for a loss and did a great job of snuffing out screen passes, has made a quick impression on Gibbs through only a week of fall practice.

"He is pretty good," the defensive coordinator said. "I told someone yesterday--they asked me who the biggest surprise was to me or the most impact player I saw was. I didn't get to see Travis in the spring because he only practiced like two days and since we have been out here that guy is a really good football player. He shows up a lot and hopefully he'll continue to do that, but he is having a good training camp."

Travis Williams was all over the field for the Tigers' defense on Wednesday.

Antarrious Williams also noted that he was impressed with Travis' play on Wednesday and added that seeing him fly around to the ball only made him want to elevate his game back to the level he is comfortable with.

"Travis had a real good day and he lead as a senior," he said. "As for me I know I have to pick my play up a little bit. I am trying to get back used to things and used to being out there."

Another key area for the defense this fall is the cornerback position, where the Tigers' are working to replace Carlos Rogers. On Wednesday, the corners looked solid in coverage for most of the afternoon and were able to pull down two interceptions, one from Jonathan Wilhite and one from Walter McFadden, during the workout.

Overall, Gibbs, who also coaches the defensive backs, said he was relatively pleased with the way his guys worked in their first live contact situation of the fall, but added that the starting positions are far from decided at this point.

"They did good," he explained. "A couple of them got beat. We didn't tackle very good, which is disappointing.

"I still think those spots are pretty much open," he continued. "We have got some young guys and then the Wilhite kid came out here and made a nice interception and showed up," he continued. "Patrick Lee showed up and made a couple of nice plays. Montae is the starter right now, but Montae (Pitts) better keep working hard."

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