Linebacker Impressive Says Rhoads

Auburn defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads talks about the play of a sophomore linebacker and gives his impressions of the first scrimmage of the spring.

Auburn, Ala.--Every spring scrimmage is a chance for some player to make an impression on the coaching staff and move up the ladder. When a new coordinator is present it makes for an even bigger impression if the player is young or unknown. Sophomore linebacker Josh Bynes has all those things working for him this spring and Saturday he earned a fan in Paul Rhoads.

"If one player stood out it was Josh Bynes," Rhoads said. "He showed up, he showed up in how he led. He showed up in how he played.

"I think he's a physical player, which obviously our mike linebacker has to be," he added. "He's got intelligence and savvy. You can tell that by the way he leads this football team and the way he addresses the football team. I like his range as a mike linebacker. He's got good height. Good height adds inches to your arms and reach and might allow you to get a hand on a ball every now and then when a shorter player might not be able to do that."

Josh Bynes brings down Tommy Trott.

After watching the video of the first spring scrimmage Rhoads said he saw the same things he noticed while watching the scrimmage live and that was the pace of Auburn's offense wearing down the defense.

"It was nothing different than what I thought afterwards," Rhoads said. "The biggest impact was the conditioning factor and once we got fatigued it was hard to be right at anything, whether it was a fundamental aspect such as tackling or a schematic responsibility like holding a gap."

There is little doubt that Bynes is a physical player, and at 6-3 and right around 230 pounds he also looks the part. While he was singled out by Rhoads for his play, Bynes wasn't the only impressive performer on defense in the first spring scrimmage.

Even with the defense hamstrung by Coach Tommy Tuberville and relegated to playing mostly zone defenses and not blitzing, Rhoads said he got a feel for some of his players. While he's got a lot of defense left to install and work on in the defense, Rhoads said that having a day like Saturday is really good for the coaches because it shows them which players can get the job done.

"You get an understanding of what kind of football players you've got," Rhoads said. "You're not relying on scheme. You're not beating people on the other side of the line of scrimmage and fooling them so to speak. You learn who can leverage a block, who can get off a block, who can pursue, who can tackle. You're seeing who can really play football."

Fundamentals and conditioning are the two areas that Rhoads said the defense must improve in before the second scrimmage of the spring this coming Saturday. Looking back on his secondary in the first outing he said he was happy with several players, but added there is a lot of work to do between now and the time spring football wraps up.

"If I was to give an all-encompassing statement I would probably says nobody lit it up," Rhoads said. "I think Jerraud Powers was consistent. I think Zac Etheridge and Michael McNeil were consistent. I think everybody showed there is room for improvement and I think everyone of them to a man would tell you to your face that they've got a lot to learn and a lot to get better at."

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Auburn's team received a scare Saturday when starting defensive end Antonio Coleman went down and was later taken out of Jordan-Hare Stadium in an ambulance after suffering a neck injury. Even though Coleman is fine and made an appearance at Sunday's practice, there is always the question of lingering effects on the team in the days following the injury. Rhoads said as far as he's concerned it wasn't even an issue on Sunday.

"They've all been playing this game too long," Rhoads said. "They know how important every day is. They know how important every play is. They are very thankful for their health and for AC's health. You come right back out to work and coach them like any other day and they responded like any other day. I thought they worked, not just hard, but extremely well today. They were learning and they got better."


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