Defensive Coordinator Not A Happy Coach

The Tigers put on the full pads on Tuesday. Comments from David Gibbs, Al Borges, Eddie Gran and others are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--The Tigers practiced for a little more than two hours on Tuesday and one of the themes of the session was improving in all areas on defense.

New defensive coordinator David Gibbs made it clear to his players that their performance in Saturday night's loss to Georgia Tech was not acceptable.

Gibbs said after Tuesday's full pads practice, "We have a saying, ‘Do your job.' I just want 11 guys doing their job. We have got nine or 10 guys doing their job and doing and doing their assignment and we have one or two guys who don't do their job and it is showing right now.

"Anytime you don't play defense with 11 guys on the same page, you aren't going to be good on defense," Gibbs added. "I don't care how good the other guys are. You hear coaches say it all of the time, ‘It's the greatest team sport that has ever been played because you have to have 11 guys doing it, not just five, not just nine.

"You have got to have 11 guys or else they will find the hole and you are average no matter how good the other guys are. You can't overcome it. You have to get on the same page."

One of Gibbs' defensive backs, David Irons, made his first start for Auburn on Saturday night after coming back from ACL surgery. On Tuesday, Irons was still upset that he didn't play better in the 23-14 loss to Georgia Tech.

"I was kind of nervous and anxious," Irons admitted. "Seeing so much of a crowd, you don't see that in junior college. Coming back from the knee injury, I was still living the dream like I can't believe I am out here. In the first quarter, my mind wasn't really into the game. I was trying to do too much. I was trying not to make too many mistakes instead of playing my game.

"On the first touchdown, I blew a coverage. I was supposed to be in five-deep. I should have never been looking at the number two receiver. I was trying to break on that. I forgot about the number one guy (Calvin Johnson), who was deep. I should have been there to make an interception or break off a pass. That hurt us from the get-go.

"If I felt like if I hadn't blown my coverage, it would have been a different ball game," Irons added. "I also blew a sack assignment. I was supposed to come on a blitz on the play in which (quarterback) Reggie Ball got a first down. I am going to learn from that and play better this week."

Irons improved after the first quarter, but his night ended early when he suffered a cramp late in the third quarter and had to get an IV to put fluids into his system. "The second half I settled down and played my game," he said.

Irons said he expects the Tigers to be better on defense in week two vs. Mississippi State. "I expect everybody to run around and look like the old defense from last year," said Irons, who added, "We still have a lot of talent out there."

Offensive coordinator Al Borges is shown at Tuesday's practice with his backup quarterback, Blake Field.

After a turnover-plagued opening night, offensive coordinator Al Borges notes that the Tigers are focusing on cleaning up their act in practice this week. "The number one thing was we were so rough around the edges on opening night. We had too many illegal procedures. We had too many penalties. Obviously, we had too many turnovers.

"After missing the first six passes, Brandon (QB Brandon Cox) got into a groove and we got into sync," Borges said. "And then, based on probably calling too many passes, it came back to haunt us as they intercepted so balls.

"Our quarterback showed flashes of brilliance, but like I said before he has got to get out there and do it some more. You just don't step out there in your first start and play like you have never missed a beat. I just hoped in his first start the bad plays wouldn't be catastrophic, but in terms of standing in the pocket and throwing the ball with a lot of pressure on him and throwing it pretty doggone accurately, I thought he did a good job.

"I think we are going to be a good team," Borges added. "We just need to get a little better oiled."

In other news:

*Kickoff specialist Zach Kutch, who had been putting the ball in the end zone consistently in practice, will get the assignment to kick off in week two, Eddie Gran said. Kutch opened the game with a kickoff that went out of bounds and didn't show his strong leg he has displayed as a high school star.

*Wide receivers coach Greg Knox notes that a pair of 2005 signees, Prechae Rodriguez and Robert Dunn, could have an opportunity to catch passes this week. Rodriguez is a sophomore juco transfer and Dunn, a true freshman, also is a kick returner. Knox said that he hopes to have junior wideout Lee Guess available for action vs. the Bulldogs after he was unable to play in the opener with an ankle sprain.

*Knox pointed out that he has been emphasizing blocking from his wide receivers and he was pleased with what he saw in game one. "We did a good job blocking," he said "If we just continue to work hard, things are going to fall into place."

*Running backs coach Gran said he wants to see more focus from his group in practice and in games. "We had a couple of situations in the games where the running backs weren't focused and we can't have that happen," he said. "It has got to be four days a week (in practice) because what happens in practice shows up on Saturdays. We have got to take care of the little things. That is all we are talking about. It is all about technique."

*Defensive end Stanley McClover, who is less than full speed with a sore ankle, said the problem was better on Tuesday and noted that he will be ready for action in game two.

*After working on the kickoff game on Monday, the special teams concentrated on punting at Tuesday's practice. Gran said he was disappointed that Tre Smith didn't field a punt in the game. "He looked downfield to find the gunner and then lost the ball," the special teams coach said. "That cost us 12 yards."

*Kickoff for Saturday's SEC opener is set for shortly after 11:30 a.m. and the game will be televised regionally on Jefferson-Pilot.

*Mississippi State, a 38-6 winner vs. Murray State in the opener, is looking to improve to 2-0 for the first time since the 2000 season when the Bulldogs, coached by Jackie Sherrill, took road victories over Memphis and BYU.

*Auburn noseguard Tommy Jackson said the Tigers will have to be concerned with preseason All-SEC tailback Jerious Norwood, who rushed for 123 yards last Saturday night. "He might be the best running back in the SEC," Jackson said.


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