Monday AU Spring Football Notes & Quotes

Details of Auburn's spring football practices are featured.

Notes from Auburn football are featured as the Tigers prepare to begin the second week of spring training:

*After losing starting offensive tackles Marcus McNeill and Troy Reddick to graduation, Leon Hart and King Dunlap are being counted on as the starters this season. While Hart didn't have his best effort in Saturday's scrimmage, Al Borges was pleased with how 6-8, 313-pound King Dunlap performed. "King Dunlap did a nice job run blocking particularly, because that's about 90 percent of what we did," Borges says. "I thought King played pretty well."

*Borges says he was impressed with how Ben Tate played in his first scrimmage. "He's got SEC talent," Borges notes of the 17-year-old early high school graduate from Maryland.

*The offense ran the ball for the most part in the scrimmage and Borges says the whole package of what the Tigers want to run in the spring will be put in by the end of this week. Auburn's next scrimmage is scheduled for next Saturday and the next practice is set for Tuesday.

*The loss of Jake Slaughter to graduation left the AU offense without a proven true fullback. On Saturday the depth at the position took a hit with Mike McLaughlin tearing his ACL. Borges notes that the fullback position will be played by committee based on different situations.

"We have ways to facilitate not having a fullback, although I think some of the walk-on kids aren't bad players," he says. "They filled in well--Gowland (Stephen Gowland), Danny Perry and Turman (Andrew Turman) have all done a pretty darn good job. We have ways to use a second tight end like Tommy Trott, who is really playing well right now. We can use him in that capacity as a move guy or use the second tailback."

*New coordinator Will Muschamp says he wants his defense to be tough and notes that a physical practice like the one AU had on Saturday is what his players needed. "We have to do a better job of getting on and off blocks," Muschamp adds. "That starts with hand placement and physical toughness up front and playing the blocks."

*Muschamp, who likes to review the film before commenting on players' performances, says that three guys really caught his eye after watching the tape. "Will Herring had a good scrimmage. Kevin Sears did some good things, especially at the mike (middle linebacker) and being new (at the position). Quentin Groves had some good production points, and I think those three guys stood out for what they did."

*As well as the offense taking a hit with the loss of McLaughlin, the defense will be without Merrill Johnson for the spring, who was battling Tray Blackmon at the weakside linebacker position but suffered a high ankle sprain. "He (Johnson) is going to be a good football player for us," Muschamp notes. "He just needs reps and we're in a little bit of a different scheme than he's used to. He's guy that needs reps on the field, it's just a matter of getting as many turns as he can get."

Aairon Savage (left) and Eric Brock are shown at Sunday's practice. Savage has moved to a new position. Brock may get a look at a linebacker.

*On Sunday, cornerback Aairon Savage was moved to free safety to try that position. With Johnson going down at linebacker, a safety may be moved down into the box to add depth. "We (Muschamp and Tuberville) talked about that and possibly Steve Gandy might be a guy that might do that," Muschamp says. "We've got to continue to look at our players and get the best 11 on the field. Steve Gandy and Eric Brock are two bigger safeties that could possibly do what Will (Will Herring) did."


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