Defensive Coaches Demanding Toughness

Auburn's defensive coaches were not happy following Saturday's scrimmage, the second of the preseason.

Auburn, Ala.--After seemingly being punished by the Auburn offense for almost two hours in the August heat during the Tigers' second scrimmage of the preseason, Don Dunn and Terry Price decided that their defensive line group needed to be pushed after practice to try and gain something the coaches said they felt the group lacked.

"We are not playing tough enough mentally or physically right now and that is the real simple way to explain it," Price explained. "We have got to get better at it and keep working at it. We have got a long time until game time, but we aren't there yet. We have got a lot of work to do."

To try and build that level of toughness, Price and Dunn put the linemen though nearly 30 extra minutes of hard, quick drills and wind sprints following the scrimmage to try and push them to their limits.

"That is a toughness drill and you can tell we are not very tough," Dunn said. "The head coach said we are not very tough, the defensive coordinator said we are not very tough and I told y'all a week ago we weren't very tough. That is one way to try and get toughness because that is a gut check right there. That separates the men from the boys and we are going to do whatever it takes."

Brandon Cox is pressured by T.J. Jackson and Quentin Groves, but still gets the pass off.

Defensive coordinator David Gibbs echoed Price's and Dunn's thoughts about the level of toughness on the defense following the scrimmage. "I think we fatigued," he said. "My personal opinion, I think our offense is tougher than our defense, physically and mentally. That is my opinion."

Dunn added that he couldn't have been more unhappy with the way his interior line group played against the offense on Saturday.

"It's football and we aren't ready to play football right now," he explained. "I am so disappointed in this group, and you can quote me on that. We have no leadership. We are not tough and we aren't ready to play."

However, he said that was a trend that would not continue. "The one thing we will be--we are going to be physically and mentally tough."

Price also said that he was going to make sure his defensive ends were properly prepared for the season. "This sport is a tough game and we lost a lot of tough players last year Doug Langenfeld, Jay Ratliff, Bret Eddins, and those guys are the definition of tough," he noted. "We have got to get some tough guys out of this young group right here. We haven't found them yet, but we are going to find them, and we are going to work to be sure they become tough. That is our goal right now as coaches."

Dunn did note, however, that at least one player did stand out from his group. "They are all good kids, but there are some of them that are doing better than others," Dunn explained. "Sen'Derrick had a heck of a day, he is probably first team right now.

"I know it sounds crazy, but you saw my senior quit," he continued in reference to Wayne Dickens, who was unable to finish the running drills after practice. "So, we are not going to put up with quitters and if they are not tough they need to transfer."

Another senior, Tommy Jackson, said following the workout that he knows the entire defensive line is not where it needs to be. "We have got to get better, everybody," he said. "One group can't be better than the other. We have all got to be doing the same thing."

He also noted that the extremely tough after practice workout is something that comes with the territory. "It was tough, but it is always tough," he explained. "Playing D-line here you have got to be a man. It is that simple."

Despite the first team offense being able to move the ball well, a noticeably absent pass rush for most of the session, and the complete discontentment of the defensive coaching staff, the defense was able to hold AU's running backs to 58 net yards on 33 carries in the scrimmage.

However, Gibbs noted that he was simply not happy with the level of play of his defense and hoped that it would change soon. "We gave everything we had, but obviously there were times that we couldn't stop them," he said. "That is not a good sign. We have got to keep working. We have got a long way to go and hopefully our seniors will step up and lead our defense and get us going in the right direction."

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