Chizik Challenges Defenders To Step Up In Week Two

Auburn's defensive coordinator singles out players who need to improve and players who are making strides in spring football drills.

Auburn, Ala.--After studying video from Auburn's first spring football scrimmage, Auburn defensive coordinator Gene Chizik says that he was pleased with how the defense performed overall. However, one thing he wasn't pleased with was the play in the secondary where Auburn is trying to replace starters at one cornerback position and at free safety.

"I saw some good things from most of the older guys," Chizik tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I'm still really concerned about the secondary. I'm really concerned about the safety position and about corner. Some of these young corners have got to get ready. Saturday I didn't see anybody come out and stand out. Nobody took a step forward. That's fine because we're young. We've just got a long way to go in trying to develop some people. That's the bottom line--we have to develop some people."

Dee Durham

Last spring Chizik used the time wisely, moving players to different positions to find the best fit not only for them, but for the defense as a whole. That could be the case again this spring as players like Junior Rosegreen, Roshard Gilyard and even Carlos Rogers could get looks at other positions in an effort to improve the defense. Travaris Robinson made the move from cornerback to free safety last season and eventually became an All-SEC player. Chizik is hoping to avoid that this spring, but it may be a necessary evil if players like Montae Pitts, Dee Durham, Karibi Dede and Will Herring don't step forward and make a move before the A-Day game on April 5.

"If we have to shift some people around and the job is not getting done, then we'll have to start moving some people," Chizik notes. "We have to find some people in the secondary that can play. These young guys are just going to have to continue to come along. We're going to teach them all week and give them as many reps as possible. Saturday we'll see what happens. If we're not getting results at that point we'll see what happens."

Travis Williams

While the secondary left a lot to be desired Saturday, that wasn't the case in the front seven where several players had big days. The best performance of the day came from Travis Williams. A sophomore who has the ability to play in the middle and at outside linebacker, the speedy Williams showed Chizik that he's ready to make a step forward in the playing rotation.

"Travis Williams did a great job," Chizik says. "He's been getting better since day one. I'm very proud of where he's gone. Tommy Jackson had a really good day and I thought Wayne Dickens played well. We just have to get the Tony McClains and the Ben Grubbs' and the Kyle Derozans to pick it up.

Wayne Dickens

"I'll tell you who else is getting better and that is Lemarcus Rowell. He's starting to come along. He has a couple of things that he has to work on in his game, but he's come along and made strides. There are some young guys in the front seven that have shown some things, but we have to get more to come, obviously."

Chizik gives advice to redshirt freshman safety Karibi Dede

This week Chizik and the other defensive coaches will take a long look at their respective positions to see if they see any improvement over Saturday's first scrimmage. This coming Saturday the team will have its second of three scrimmages and the second-year coordinator says that this weekend could be a make-or-break weekend for several positions.

"What we have back there is what we have," Chizik adds. "We just have to get the four best ones out there at one time. None of the young corners stepped up at all, zero. They have to make some gains this week or they're going to find themselves second or third team with another guy moving in front of them. We're going to have a 100-plus play scrimmage and they are going to have to get in there and show something. This is a fact-finding mission and we found Saturday that we have a long way to go."

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