Defense Shines at A-Day

With Will Muschamp calling mostly base defenses and laying off his all-out blitz style, the offense still had a difficult time moving the football.

Auburn, Ala.--Allowing just 264 yards on 87 plays and just one score, coordinator Will Muschamp said his defense put forth a good effort in the A-Day game.

The Blue team, which was the first team offense and second defense, outscored the White team, second team offense and first defense, by the score of 7-0.

"I think it's something to build from," Muschamp noted.

The only score of the game was 53-yard scoring strike from Brandon Cox to redshirt freshman tight end Tommy Trott. Jonathan Wilhite was in coverage but a perfectly thrown ball down field was just out of his reach and Trott was able to pull it in and race to the end zone.

"I was disappointed that we gave up the one big play," Muschamp said. "It was just poor eye control on our part and not watching what we were supposed to watch. Other than that it was a good day with good effort and good tackling."

The first team defense allowed just 118 yards for the game--104 in the air and 14 on the ground on 21 carries. The starters were Marquies Gunn (strongside end), Sen'Derrick Marks (defensive tackle), Josh Thompson (nose guard), Quentin Groves (weakside end), Will Herring (strongside linebacker), Kevin Sears (middle linebacker), Tray Blackmon (weakside linebacker), David Irons and Wilhite at cornerback, Eric Brock (strong safety) and Aairon Savage (free safety).

With Muschamp looking for the best match of players on the field, that starting lineup could easily change at several positions before Washington State comes to town on Sept. 2.

"Every time they walk out (on the field), jobs can be won and lost," Muschamp noted. "It's not settled one bit. We'll sit with Coach (Tommy) Tuberville when we get done watching the film and talk about spring, where we are and where we need to go. We need to have a great off-season. We've got a long way to go."

Karibi Dede and his fellow defenders were impressive on Saturday.

With Merrill Johnson out with a sprained ankle suffered early in spring drills, Steve Gandy started the game on the second team defense at the will linebacker position before playing strong safety for much of the afternoon.

"Steve has, this week, been playing both will and safety," Muschamp said. "He's a good football player and we need to get him on the field. We're trying to find the best spot for him."

Starting cornerback David Irons, who missed much of spring practice while focusing only classes so he can graduate in May, made one of the few highlight plays of the scrimmage. Cox threw a fade for Courtney Taylor, who has been able to wrestle the ball away from defenders throughout his career, but he was unable to wrestle it away from Irons when both players had their hands on the ball.

"C.T. had it and I had it," said the ever-confident Irons. "He was trying to take it away from me. I just wanted him to get a little grab on the ball so he could feel good about himself. I just had to snatch it away from him.

"I wonder why they throw to my side, but that's okay," Irons added. "When they did throw to my side I just got excited."

Even though the first team defense allowed just one play of significant yardage, Irons said his unit could have and should have played better.

"Defense wins championships so we can't be giving up any points," he said. "They scored once, but it was mental mistakes. We don't want anybody to score on us. If you score once we're still not satisfied. We want shutouts. If they kicked a field goal it would have been different, but that was a touchdown. We don't like touchdowns."

The second unit was even more successful than the first, allowing zero points and 146 yards on 45 plays.

Redshirt freshman defensive end Antonio Coleman gained a lot of weight during the off-season and had a solid spring. A-Day was no exception as he was the game's leading tackler with seven solos and an assist. He also had two sacks and was credited with a quarterback hurry.

Another redshirt freshman, Patrick Trahan, was all over the field and was credited with three solos, an assist and a sack.

Senior corner Montae Pitts forced the only turnover by the second team offense on a pick from Calvin Booker intended for Montez Billings. On a pass about 20 yards down field near the sideline, Pitts jumped up in the air, made a nice catch and was able to come down with interception.

On an overall assessment for the spring, Muschamp said he was pleased with what he was able to accomplish in his first time spent with his new players.

"For the most part, other than about two practices, I thought we got better every day," he noted. "We got better in 13 opportunities and probably had two practices where I don't think we took a step forward. I was overall pleased with the spring, and we have great kids here."


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