Roof: Defense Takes Step Forward

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof talks about Saturday's first spring scrimmage.

Auburn, Ala.--Going into Saturday's first spring scrimmage, Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof was looking for several things out of his group of Tigers. While there was good and bad on the day, the first-year coach said overall he was pleased with what he saw.

"I think it was a day that out of 90-something plays, the offensive objective was to run the ball," Roof said. "In this league you've got to be able to stop the run to win. The objective was to stop the run. At times we did a good job of that. We got some takeaways, but gave up too many explosive plays. I think that overall we took a step forward. It was a good scrimmage for us."

Throughout the spring, Roof has focused on the defense creating turnovers. That was one of the bright spots on Saturday as in a modified scoring system the defense beat the offense 45-40. Scoring points on big plays on defense, the biggest came late as sophomore safety Drew Cole knocked the ball loose from running back Onterio McCalebb and redshirt freshman defensive end Cameron Henderson jumped on it to secure the turnover.

"It was a perimeter run and I saw a guy put his hat right on the football," Roof said. "Cameron Henderson was behind him pursuing the football just like we preach. He did a good job of recovering the ball just like we work on every day.

"That's critical," Roof added "The two biggest factors in winning and losing a football games are winning the x-play (explosive play) battle and winning the takeaway battle. We've got to limit explosive plays. If we take the ball away and limit plays then we're going to win. It was good to end like that. The positive for us ending like that is you keep demanding it and keep preaching it, then it happens and sometimes people start believing."

Cole and Henderson were part of a large group of young players that got extensive work on defense during the scrimmage. Roof said that is the best part of the day because it allows them to see their mistakes in live situations instead of watching others play.

"I thought at times there were a lot of good things," Roof said. "There is going to be a lot of good teaching to come off that tape. We looked at a lot of different players today, got a lot of guys in there and got some looks. We'll be able to evaluate things as we move forward to figure out what we need to do and do it with."

With one scrimmage in the books, Roof said it gives him an opportunity to sit back and evaluate guys based on how they play when the lights are on. While practices are great teaching tools, he said there is no substitute for seeing how guys respond in true game situations.

"It's great," Roof said. "As a coach it's so valuable because you come to the stadium and there are no coaches on the field correcting things after each play. Of course, we don't do that because of the tempo we practice at. You let players go play and you find out what they really know. How do you respond to things? The number of plays we went today in a row was a little bit longer than what we've practiced, so it was good to see how guys responded when they got a little gassed."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Linebacker Eltoro Freeman is currently Mr. Versatility for the Auburn defense as he worked at both strong side and weak side linebacker for the Tigers during the scrimmage behind Craig Stevens and Spencer Pybus respectively.

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