Defense Gets Mixed Reviews in Scrimmage

The defense played well at times in Auburn's first preseason scrimmage. A report on what happened along with defensive statistics is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--The first scrimmage of the 2006 season was filled with good, bad and ugly for the defense. However, it was an overall positive performance, according to head coach Tommy Tuberville.

"If the defense is not ahead of the offense in two-a-days, then it's going to be a long season," Tuberville noted. "I like where we're at on defense."

The good part was the play of the secondary and the pass rush in the 80-play scrimmage. The defense forced seven turnovers--four interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Led by defensive ends Quentin Groves and Antonio Coleman, the defense got to the quarterback eight times for sacks.

The offense caught only two more passes, six, than the defense, four.

"We had a lot of turnovers, which is something we're trying to emphasize here in camp," defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said. "For the most part we tackled well, but it was typical of a first scrimmage. You don't always leverage the ball the right way and you don't always play the right gaps up front.

"We played our base packages," Muschamp added. "We didn't do any movement, no pressures, nothing. We need to line up and head butt the guy across from us and play football. You can't mislead move all the time. People are too good and they'll block it. We've got to be able to line up and play base defense, and that's all we did today."

The bad part for the defense was against the run as Kenny Irons and Carl Stewart gained 131 yards on 12 carries.

"I was watching mostly the line of scrimmage and we looked like we got gashed pretty early," Tuberville noted.

The bad led to the ugly as the defensive line had to stay afterward and do conditioning drills with the heat index over 100 degrees.

True freshman linemen Zach Clayton and Jermarcus Ricks didn't make it through the last run because of exhaustion. Others were struggling to stay on their feet.

"We've got lots of stuff to work on," Muschamp said. "We lined up offsides about four times, which is amazing to me. We've got a lot of things to correct in the scrimmage, but with that being said we did some good things with the turnovers and some third down stops."

The first-year Auburn defensive coordinator added that he is looking for leadership anywhere he can get it.

"I don't care who it is--senior, freshman," Muschamp noted. "I don't care where they're from, what they're doing, we need someone to step up and take control of the defense. We haven't done that so far and hopefully that will come forward for us."

Scrimmage Statistics:

Quentin Groves (3-5-8, 1.5 TFL, 1.5 Sacks), Josh Thompson (2-3-5, 1 TFL, 1 Sack), Octavious Balkcom (2-3-5, 1 TFL, 1 Sack), Craig Stevens (3-1-4, 1 Int., 1 FF), Will Herring (2-2-4), Jonathan Wilhite (1-3-4, PBU, 1 Int.), Courtney Harden (1-3-4, 1 Int., 1 FR), Merrill Johnson (1-3-4, 1 TFL), Aairon Savage (2-1-3), David Irons (1-2-3), Antonio Coleman (1-2-3, 1.5 TFL, 1 Sack), Hendrick Leverette (1-2-3), Patrick Lee (2-0-2), Patrick Trahan (2-0-2, FR), Zaccheus Etheridge (2-0-2), Karibe Dede (1-1-2), Lorenzo Ferguson (1-1-2), Kevin Sears (1-1-2, PBU, FR), Zach Gilbert (0-2-2, PBU), Tez Doolittle (0-2-2, .5 TFL), Tray Blackmon (0-2-2), Walter McFadden (1-0-1), Bart Eddins (1-0-1, 1 TFL), Eric Brock (0-1-1), Jerraud Powers (0-1-1, 1 PBU, 1 Int.), Christopher Browder (0-1-1, .5 TFL, .5 Sack), Byron Isom (0-1-1), Jonathan Vickers (0-1-1), Chris Evans (1 PBU)

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