Defense Improves In Auburn's Second Scrimmage

Comments from players plus news and notes are featured from the Auburn football team's scrimmage on Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.--As was the case a week earlier, the offense held the upper hand in Auburn's Saturday football scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium. However, the defense showed signs of making progress in the session that lasted approximately 80 plays.

Senior linebacker Craig Stevens said he would give the offense the edge in the scrimmage, but added, "Overall, I think we played pretty well today. We gave up too many big plays because they know what we are running and we know what they are running. I thought we had great effort and we stepped up compared to last week."

Senior tailback Maro Fannin agreed that the offense was the winner in Saturday's scrimmage. "We had a lot of big plays on offense today," said Fannin, who used a block from Byron Isom to spring him on a 65-yard touchdown run.

"Our offensive line blocked well and our quarterbacks made some great reads so I think the offense is coming around," Fannin added. "I feel like we are on a good path, and we still have a long way to go, but compared to last year we have come a long way."

Fannin said he was impressed with the running of redshirt freshman tailback Dontae Aycock and noted that he liked what he saw from wide receiver Darvin Adams, who turned a short pass from Cameron Newton into a touchdown. Aycock scored touchdowns on runs of five and two yards and he showed good power scoring from the two.

"Darvin made a great run on the touchdown pass," Newton said. "I only had to throw the ball about five yards and Darvin did the rest."

Darvin Adams makes a big play in Saturday's scrimmage. He is Auburn's top returning receiver.

Newton, who also scored on a touchdown keeper from 12 yards, looks to be taking control of the No. 1 spot at quarterback although neither head coach Gene Chizik nor offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Gus Malzahn would say that is the case after the scrimmage.

Last year's No. 2 quarterback, senior Neil Caudle, didn't help his cause by throwing two interceptions to senior cornerback Demond Washington.

Newton didn't throw any interceptions and the juco transfer was beaming after the scrimmage. Commenting on his touchdown run, he said, "It was a zone read. Coach Malzahn had been scheming that up this week. We were trying to give some different looks to our defense and we executed it pretty well.

"On my touchdown plass, I just put the ball in the playmaker's hands and Darvin did the rest," Newton said. "He made my job easy. He cut here and then cut there and the next thing he was in the end zone."

Newton said he is feeling more comfortable directing the offense. "I see daily progress and I am becoming more confident out there," he said. "That is very important to me and what I want to get accomplished this spring."

Stevens, one of Auburn's most experienced players on defense, said, "We gave up too many big plays today, but overall I will give it (the scrimmage) to the offense, but overall I feel like both sides did well."

Commenting after the scrimmage, head coach Gene Chizik said, "Today was a day where I feel that we went through a lot of different scenarios that helped us. We had explosive plays on both sides of the ball, meaning some turnovers and some big plays both in the running game and in the passing game. We covered a lot of different situations out there today and it was good for our football team. Overall, we accomplished what we needed to get on film to evaluate guys better this weekend."

Chizik said he liked what he saw from the quarterbacks, but wouldn't say that Newton or any other quarterback has moved ahead of the others. "The thing that I liked is our yards after catch," he said. "Wide receivers were really making some guys miss. The defense was tracking the ball hard and obviously offensively you want to make guys miss in space, and some of that went on today. That's good to see because yards after catch are going to be huge."

Gene Chizik watches Neil Caudle in Saturday's scrimmage.

Chizik said he also liked what he saw from the running backs. "Today our backs did a nice job hitting some seams. My suspicion is that it was probably 50-50 today. Our defensive line did a really nice job at times of controlling the line of scrimmage, and there were other times when backs hit some creases and gained some yards."

News and Notes: Junior wide receiver Quindarius Carr is running first team as the punt returner...Juco transfer Brandon Mosley started the scrimmage at right tackle ahead of Roszell Gayden, who has been less than full speed this week due to injury issues...Redshirt freshman walk-on Blake Burgess opened the scrimmage as the number two center behind Ryan Pugh...With Zach Clayton and Dee Ford not participating in the scrimmage due to injuries, the Tigers are short on depth on the defensive front. Clayton was on crutches at the scrimmage after suffering a knee bruise at the previous practice on Wednesday...Fannin had one of the most impressive plays of the scrimmage. He made safety Mike McNeil miss near the line of scrimmage, made another move downfield on his long touchdown run. Although there were no stats kept at the scrimmage, he had more than 100 rushing yards in the scrimmage...Linebacker Eltoro Freeman was not dressed out for the scrimmage. He is recovering from a hamstring issue...Safety Mike Slade and defensive end Dee Ford, who are both hurt, did not dress out for the scrimmage...Auburn signee Shaun Kitchens made the trip to campus from College Park, Ga., to watch the scrimmage.

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