Franklin Sees Positives In Second Scrimmage

After studying video of Auburn's second scrimmage of spring football drills, AU's new offensive coordinator gives his take on what he saw.

Auburn, Ala.--After having a chance to study video of Auburn's second spring football scrimmage, offensive coordinator Tony Franklin says there are reasons to be encouraged.

Franklin, who is also the coach of the quarterbacks, notes that Kodi Burns, Chris Todd and Neil Caudle all made progress in last week's scrimmage. AU's other quarterback participating in spring drills, early high school graduate DeRon Furr, is expected to be able to resume throwing next week when the Tigers return from spring break. He bruised his arm in AU's first scrimmage and hasn't thrown since then.

"The quarterbacks got better," Franklin tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "It was good to see Chris out there and be 60 percent rather than 30 percent.

Chris Todd runs for yardage in scrimmage two.

Todd completed 17-25 passes for 168 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in the second scrimmage after having to miss the first one.

"All of the things I believed in with him, moving in the pocket, leadership, knowing how to move the ball down the field even without his arm being as good as it will be, were good," Franklin says of Todd, who has been limited in throwing the football this spring with a sore shoulder.

"He is a little rusty," Franklin notes. "Some things he did he probably won't do, but it was good to see him get the opportunity and do a good job with it.

"I thought Neil played the best he has played so far," Franklin says of Caudle, a redshirt sophomore who had interception issues in the first scrimmage and in some of the practices. "He didn't throw it to the other team for the first time since we have been doing this.

"Kodi didn't throw it as well, but it he didn't play bad," Franklin says of Burns, the QB who saw action last fall as a true freshman. "He made good choices and good decisions. He worked on some throws he needed to work on so I was pleased with how he played. That's a good deal. We had three guys who I thought played pretty good."

Kodi Burns threw for two touchdowns in AU's second scrimmage.

One of the negatives of the play on offense in scrimmage two was a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks from the defensive front. After watching the video of the scrimmage, Franklin says he is less concerned.

"The offensive line wasn't as bad as it seemed at the time," he states. "Anytime that a touch means you are down as a quarterback it is not a good deal. There were 10 sacks listed in 110 or 111 snaps. I don't know how many times we threw it--probably around 75 or 80 times, I would imagine. The true number of sacks would have probably been three to five.

"They (offensive linemen) are getting better with their protection, but they still have a long way to go before it becomes a habit of breaking things they had done previously that were good for what they did, but not good for this style so they are getting that stuff fixed right now and they will get it fixed."

Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the scrimmage is the Tigers didn't use any of the scholarship tailbacks. Senior Brad Lester, who has had an impressive spring, was held out of the scrimmage. Tristan Davis (bruised foot), Mario Fannin (shoulder injury) and Ben Tate (hamstring) were not available although Davis and Tate are expected back in action later this spring.

"It was disappointing that we didn't have any scholarship running backs, and that makes it very difficult not having any of those guys out there and we didn't have Robert Dunn out there as well," Franklin says. Dunn is a wide receiver who missed the scrimmage due to a conflict with a class. James Swinton and redshirt freshman Quindarius Carr.

"I thought Swinton continued to improve and showed some toughness which I liked with him because he has got talent," the coach says. "Carr made two or three spectacular catches. He still doesn't understand how to play full speed all of the time and how to run routes, but he is naturally talented and he is getting better and he is going to be a guy that I think will be a playmaker for us."

Redshirt sophomore Terrell Zachery, who stepped up with nine catches in the first scrimmage, didn't do anything to hurt his stock in scrimmage two. He made four catches for 46 yards with two going for touchdowns. "Zachery continued to do well and make plays," Franklin says.

Senior walk-on receiver Charles Olatunji had a good scrimmage, Franklin points out. He finished with five catches for 79 yards. "Olatunji made some plays and I think he is a guy who is going to be in the rotation," Franklin says. "He is going to get on the field and it is always good when you have a walk-on who presses the starters and hopefully beats them out."

Charles Olatunji (21) runs a pass route vs. cornerback Ryan Williams.

Walk-on running backs such as Ryan Hastie, Anthony Jemison, Jason King, Davis Hooper, and Mike Gibson have helped the Tigers this spring with injuries to the scholarship players. Franklin says he appreciates their efforts.

"They are getting better every day," he says. "Eddie (running backs coach Eddie Gran) is coaching them all of the time now. Normally they don't get much coaching. Now they get to go through drills and stuff. When the reps are going on, you have four guys who all have chances to play in the NFL in front of you, you probably aren't going to get many reps. Now that they are getting more and more reps, they are getting better.

"None of them are probably good enough to ever take the spots of those guys, but just like anything if three guys go down somebody may have to play. They did a lot better. Their assignments were better and they made a couple of decent runs throughout the day and they picked up the blitz pretty good and that was good to see."

The Tigers will return to practice on Tuesday. Auburn's annual A-Day Game is March 29th at 1 p.m.

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