Coleman Steps Up For Auburn Defense

Senior defensive end Antonio Coleman talks about the Saturday scrimmage and why he's improved as a player.

Auburn, Ala.--After a nip and tuck affair between the offense and defense in the first scrimmage of the spring last weekend, on Saturday scrimmage number two was dominated by the defense led by senior Antonio Coleman. Coming up with a handful of sacks and big plays in the backfield, the Mobile native said it's his job to get the defense going and he did that on Saturday.

"We stepped up big time," Coleman said. "I look at today as just a learning tool for me. When I step up and get the ball rolling everyone follows me. I wasn't realizing that the first couple of practices we had, but the coaches pulled me aside, coach (Tracy) Rocker and coach (Ted) Roof and it really opened my eyes. I came out today with that on my mind. I got the ball rolling and everyone just followed me."

As one of the veterans on defense, Coleman has been a player that has been singled out by the defensive coaches all spring to step up and be a leader. While it's not in his makeup to be vocal, Coleman said he's learning how to bring that quality to the field every day to be the kind of player the Tigers need.

"I wasn't a vocal leader, I always led by example," Coleman said. "They are forcing me to take that role. I'm trying to gradually move to being a vocal leader. It's kind of tough, but I'm taking on that role. I'm a senior and that's who everyone looks up to. I have to do it."

Coleman sacks Neil Caudle on Saturday.

With a new coaching staff in place also comes new techniques and drills to help the players, Coleman said while all of those things have been helpful, it's the hands-on coaching from one of the best players in Auburn history that has made him a much better player in just a few practices in the spring.

"I think it's just a blessing to be coached by Tracy Rocker," Coleman said. "He played here and he's taught me so much that I didn't know about playing the defensive line. That's helping me a lot. Coach (Terry) Price was a great coach, but coach Rocker brings a different mentality to the football game. I love it. Every time I see him I thank him because he's helping me become a better player."

With one week remaining until the A-Day game on April 18, the Tigers have plenty of work to do on both sides of the ball. For the defense it's about continuing down the path of improvement. Coleman said it's all about effort from every member of the group. He said if they get that every day then the results will follow.

"We have a great defense, but we can only be as great as we allow ourselves to be," Coleman said. "You can have a great secondary, a great linebacker corps and great linemen, but if you don't go out there every day and play hard and get better then it doesn't mean anything. That's what I try to tell the guys before we get out there every day, just go out there and give it your all."


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