Football Coordinators See Need For Improvement

Offensive coordinator Hugh Nall and defensive coordinator Gene Chizik give their views on Auburn's first scrimmage of the spring.

Auburn, Ala.--Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik didn't have much good to say about his defenders following Saturday's scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

New coordinator Hugh Nall wasn't exactly singing the praises of the offense, either.

Neither the offense nor defense dominated the first major scrimmage of spring practice for the Auburn Tigers, but head coach Tommy Tuberville says that overall he thought the offense had an edge.

Nall obviously wants more of an edge. "I was disappointed with our first and 10 performance," says Nall, who doubles as offensive line coach. "I don't think we ran the ball well early. We ended up with what would have been a lot of second and long situations. We have to start quicker. We were mighty soft and slow.

"Of course, we had some changes with some different guys in there than we had the other day with the injury to Monreko (guard Monreko Crittenden has a broken bone in his hand)," Nall adds. "Still, it doesn't matter. You have got to perform. You have got to do what you are supposed to do, but I thought we got stronger as we went along so that was a positive."

Steve Ensminger (left), who coaches the quarterbacks, watches the Tigers in drills on Saturday along with offensive coordinator Hugh Nall. Tommy Tuberville, head coach of the Tigers, is in the background.

The offense averaged 3.4 yards per carry running the football against a very quick defensive unit. The scrimmage was a situational one with the down and distance scripted on most plays. Auburn's four quarterbacks combined to pass for 299 yards, hitting 24-34 passes for 299 yards with two interceptions.

"I thought our passing game had some good things happen," Nall says. "We had some breakdowns in protection we have got to improve on. I thought the quarterbacks did a good job with their checks for the most part. It was a decent first (scrimmage). I have seen a lot worse and I have seen a lot better."

"We started mighty slow," Nall says. "That was my fault. I have got to get them ready to go quicker. Sometimes that happens in a game, too, particularly with the running game."

Chizik's defense finished the season with dominating performances in victories over Alabama and Penn State. Chizik didn't rate Saturday's performance at that level. "It was kind of sloppy execution a lot of times for us not doing much today," the second year AU defensive coordinator says. "We just kind of played base defense all day. I just really wanted to come out here and play hard and try to tackle well. Sometimes we tackled well and some times we didn't. We are going to have to work on that."

The best thing he saw, Chizik says, is that the Tigers competed hard on defense, but even that didn't suit the coach. "I think they did," he says. "At one point there was a lull in there. I think they tried to play hard and run to the ball. In your first scrimmage that is the first objective and try to be a good tackling defense."

The Tigers, who have completed four of their 15 spring drills, will have two more major scrimmages this spring.


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