Offense Holds Upper Hand In Auburn Scrimmage

Comments from Auburn coaches and players are featured along with notes from Auburn's first scrimmage of spring training.

Auburn, Ala.--Although the defense made progress in stopping the run, the offense held the upper hand in Auburn's first major scrimmage of the spring.

Working out on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium with football lettermen and recruits in attendance, offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said he saw some good things and not so good things, but overall had more to like than dislike.

"There are 10 or 12 guys that we really wanted to evaluate hard and you can't do that unless you scrimmage," Malzahn said. "We will watch the film and have some real good information to start putting pieces into place." That includes quarterback, where the four guys trying to win the starting spot vacated by Chris Todd all got work on Saturday.

Cameron Newton throws a pass in Saturday's scrimmage.

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof said the Tigers made progress in stopping the run, but noted he wants to see more consistency from his group. "That is always going to be a priority because if you can't stop the run in this league you can't play for championships," Roof said.

The scrimmage was the first time the Tigers had worked with game officials this spring.

"I really thought it was a productive first scrimmage," Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said. "I felt like offensively we moved the ball and did some things that were good.

"Our turnovers and ball security were somewhat of an issue for us and that was an issue today," Chizik added. "Some of it was great plays by the defense. Some of was just sloppiness carrying the football. I thought we had a good number of explosive plays offensively. That was really good to see.

Safety Mike McNeil covers wide receiver DeAngelo Benton in Saturday's scrimmage.

"Defensively, again we gained some turnovers which was one of the main focus points of what we were trying to do today," Chizik said. "I thought for the most part today, the running game, defensively they did a nice job. They let a couple of big runs get out of there that were really great plays by some of the tailbacks. Overall, I think it was good first day working toward trying to get some consistency. For the first scrimmage, I think we were about on track."

Onterio McCalebb had the longest run from the tailbacks, an approximate 40-yarder, while Mario Fannin had a run of around 30 yards and Dontae Aycock had several good runs, too.

Mario Fannin runs the football on Saturday.

The standout offensively was wide receiver Philip Pierre-Louis, who was effective on runs and catches, however, he injured his knee and had to leave the scrimmage. How serious his injury is has not been determined.

Senior linebacker Josh Bynes said the defense did some good things, but needs work. "We started out fine and then the offense played better and started taking over the scrimmage," Bynes said. "Defensively, we have got to get better. The offense won this scrimmage.

"We have to get better at open field tackling and running to the ball," Bynes added.

News and Notes: Chizik said he thought the newcomer in the QB battle, Cameron Newton, "did well today." The junior did not throw an interception, but lost the football on a fumble. Chizik also had praise for the other QBs...Senior Neil Caudle threw in interception, something that has plagued him in the past...Three guards missed the scrimmage due to various injuries--Mike Berry, Bart Eddins and Jorell Bostrom. Berry is not expect to scrimmage again until August after having offseason surgery. Eddins is trying to recover from a knee problem and Bostrom, a walk-on, has his arm in a sling. Center Jared Cooper worked at guard as did John Sullen and walk-ons Andrew Parmer and Blake Burgess. Byron Isom and Sullen worked with the ones to start the session...Early high school graduate Jessel Curry worked at strongside linebacker...Redshirt freshman linebacker Harris Gaston is still recovering from a shoulder injury suffered last year and did not scrimmage. He had surgery on the problem...Chizik said that newcomers Brandon Mosley and Roszell Gayden looked good in their first Auburn scrimmage. Gayden and Mosley are juco transfers competing for the No. 1 spot at right tackle...A pair of walk-on defensive backs had a good day. Blake Poole had a pick and Ikeem Means made multiple good plays...Several of his defensive teammates said it was good to see former starting safety Mike McNeil make several good plays after missing the entire 2009 season with a broken fibula. "I told Mike he looked good and to keep it up," cornerback Neiko Thorpe said...Sophomore wide receiver Emory Blake, who caught a touchdown pass, had a good scrimmage...Wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor said his group is doing much better than it did at this time last year...QB Barrett Trotter said he thought the offensive line had a good day protecting the quarterbacks...

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