Defense Rallies In Scrimmage Two

Despite some big plays from the offense, the defense "outscored" the offense in Auburn's second major football scrimmage of the preseason.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's second preseason football scrimmage featured more of an emphasis on the ground game and kicking on Saturday, and it proved to be pretty much a standoff between the offense and defense.

"The score was tied at 42-42 until the last series when we got a three-and-out on defense so the defense won," sophomore defensive end Dee Ford said.

The defense can earn points for stops and making big plays. In the first scrimmage of the preseason, the offense finished with more points.

"I thought we took it up a notch at the scrimmage today," Ford said. "We were down in the first half of the scrimmage, but we took it up a notch on defense in the second half and came back, which is something we talk about doing. <> "The coaches emphasize how we are going to handle adversity," Ford added. "We came back in the second half and won the scrimmage. The defense came together today."

Senior defensive lineman Zach Clayton battles a double-team block by center Ryan Pugh (50) and guard Byron Isom (57) in the scrimmage.

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik didn't name a winner, but said he thought his football team made progress in the session that featured around 70 plays on a wet field at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"I thought we got a lot accomplished," Chizik said. "I think today was a good scrimmage. We got a great chance to look at a lot of the young guys in a lot of ways. We did some live kickoffs and we did some live punt returns, and live punts, obviously, and we really had a chance to evaluate some of our young talent so that was really good. We really played them a lot, offensively and defensively, as well.

"We cut down on the mental mistakes in terms of penalties and things it was much better," Chizik said. "That was what we were looking for, a noticeable improvement from scrimmage one to scrimmage two. I think we got that today.

"Their effort was really, really good," the coach said. "There were some good things happening on both sides of the ball, but we are a long way from where we need to be come game day, but I think today was a great step in the right direction."

As was the case at Wednesday night's scrimmage, the emphasis was on the young players. One of the most impressive players in the session was true freshman wide receiver Trovon Reed. who scored on a 70-yard run from the wildcat formation and he put on a show with his all-around athletic ability and quickness. Reed, who missed the first scrimmage with a leg problem, was singled out for praise among the freshmen by Chizik.

Another young player, sophomore wideout Emory Blake, caught touchdown passes from Kodi Burns and Barrett Trotter, a sophomore who is battling for the No. 2 QB spot behind Cameron Newton. Burns, a senior, is a former quarterback who is seeing action again as a wildcat QB in addition to catching passes.

Commenting on why the coaches are giving the young players so much scrimmage time this week, Chizik said, "When you have 22 seniors, you have really good ideas of where they stand. We just have to know what our depth factor is going to be. That was the means to the madness and when we scrimmage again, we will probably do the same thing. There is no substitute for going out there and doing it and the experience of it."

Commenting on Newton's development as the number one quarterback, offensive quarterback Gus Malzahn said, "We are throwing a lot at him, but he is handling it well. He is not perfect, but at times he is getting better. He is the type of guy who doesn't make the same mistake twice so we are trying to put him in as many situations that he will see in a game as possible."

Newton, who ran for a touchdown, also threw an interception and didn't please his coaches with a bad decision on a pitch play that resulted in another turnover. T'Sharvan Bell intercepted the pass in the end zone thrown by Newton and linebacker Daren Bates recovered a bad pitch from Newton.

Commenting on Trotter, Malzahn said, "He is a solid football player and he throws a very catchable ball. He has a great understanding of the offense. He can run the team and the other two behind him (Neil Caudle and Clint Moseley) could also run the offense, too, so that is a luxury. That is one of our deepest positions.

Malzahn said that Trotter has made a lot of progress this preseason as has the redshirt freshman in the mix. "Clint Moseley has really come on and Neil Caudle is Mr. Consistency. Those three guys behind Cam, we could run our offense behind any of those three guys.

Mario Fannin runs the football in Saturday's scrimmage. Defensive Nosa Egaue reaches for the football while defensive end Corey Lemonier holds Fannin's leg.

Following the Wednesday scrimmage, Chizik was unhappy with the penalties. He said the Tigers improved in that area on Saturday.

Chizik's Tigers will participate in Fan Day on Saturday from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday at the Auburn Arena and will practice again on Sunday night.

In other news and notes from the scrimmage:

*Quindarius Carr worked as the No. 1 punt returner. Freshman Jonathan Mincy is a possibility at the position along with Darvin Adams and Anthony Gulley Morgan.

*Wes Byrum won praise from Chizik for making a 50-yard field goal and another long kick.

*Demond Washington, Onterio McCalebb, Reed and Mario Fannin are the leading candidates to return kickoffs. Reed broke free on a kickoff return on Saturday. Fannin had a run of approximately 25 yards in the scrimmage from his tailback spot.

*Chizk said there is a good competition for the punting job with senior Ryan Shoemaker being challenged by the freshman Steven Clark.

*Safety Zac Etheridge, as was the case in the first scrimmage, was held out of action from the scrimmage as he continues to recover from his 2009 neck and back injury.

*Freshman Ryan White is the only quarterback who did not play in the scrimmage.

*Freshman defensive end Craig Sanders continues to make a push for playing time. His nickname is "The Animal."

*The Tigers were treated to watermelons at the stadium following the scrimmage, an August practice tradition.

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