Offense Turns Up the Heat In Scrimmage 3

Comments from Gene Chizik, Gus Malzahn, Ted Roof and players are featured in a report on Auburn's third preseason football scrimmage.

Auburn, Ala.--The offense picked up its tempo and its production on Tuesday night as it outperformed the defense by a wide margin in Auburn's third football scrimmage in the past six days.

Junior quarterback Cameron Newton led the charge with three touchdown passes, including a pair to senior Kodi Burns, who was praised by head coach Gene Chizik for a strong all-around performance as a receiver and blocker in the scrimmage that included approximately 80 plays at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Newton was among the group impressed with Burns, a former Auburn QB. "Me and him have been like stripes on a zebra--we have been very close," said Newton, who added, "He has had an exceptional career here at Auburn and this year I am sensing he wants to go out with a bang. He is practicing like he wants to do it."

Newton said the offense made major improvement from scrimmage two to three. "We moved the ball at will and that is how we have to be if we want to be successful, especially in this league."

In the previous scrimmages offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn wasn't happy with the tempo of the offense and said the Tigers made improvement in that area on Tuesday night. Newton agreed and said, "Coach Chizik allowed us a couple of times to just turn up the pace and see how we would react and how the defensive players would react. I think all in all, we did an excellent job with that."

Newton also threw a touchdown pass to Mario Fannin and had several good runs, but didn't score any touchdowns on the ground. "They are on a quick whistle and it is kind of making me very impatient, but that is okay," he said. Newton and the other quarterbacks wear orange jerseys for all practices, which means they are off limits to contact.

In Chizik's scoring system that rewards the offense and defense points for big plays, the offense dominated 82-25. On Saturday the defense outpointed the offense by pulling off a three and out at the end of the scrimmage that was tied 42-42.

Malzahn said, "The pace was better tonight, but it still isn't where it needs to be. We have two weeks to get it right."

Commenting on the quarterbacks, Malzahn said, "They didn't have any interceptions so that was good. I got a chance to let all four play and at times all four of them did solid things."

Freshman receiver Shaun Kitchens makes a catch in the scrimmage. Ted Roof was not a happy coach after the scrimmage. "We have got to get some things corrected," he said. "We gave up too many big plays tonight. We came out and started out real well. We started off with a takeway (fumble recovery by Daren Bates) and then we gave up some big plays."

Roof said the mistakes on defense were "across the board" and added, "We have got to get better in a hurry."

The defensive coordinator added that he wasn't pleased with the tackling or the pursuit angles, but added there were no problems he saw on Tuesday night that can't be corrected. However, he said that nobody stood out on defense.

Head coach Chizik had praise for the offense after the session that also included work on the kicking game.

"Offensively, we tried to work our pace a little bit more tonight, just trying to get a rhythm and get a fast pace going right now, which was very effective," he said. "It was good for us to work on that for both sides of the ball, and we were very productive in doing that."

As was the case with the first two scrimmages, the newcomers on both offense and defense got plenty of playing time as the coaches try to get enough information to see which freshmen and juco transfers will be ready to play on opening night two weeks from Saturday vs. Arkansas State.

"There was some good and some bad on both sides of the ball, but we got a lot of work with the young kids," Chizik said. "We will look at the tape and we will see where we have to go from here, and hopefully make some more decisions in the next few days on who is going to help us."

Kodi Burns makes a catch in Tuesday night's scrimmage.

The player singled out for praise by Chizik was Burns. "I have to give Kodi Burns a lot of credit," said Chizik. "He has taken it as a personal thing to help us on special teams, where he has really improved. As a pass-catching receiver, he has done some nice things and I am proud of where he has come. He is just a great Auburn guy and I really appreciate his efforts, and so do his teammates."

Burns noted that he thought he had a solid scrimmage. "I am just trying to do the things necessary to help our team win games," he said.

Commenting on putting his team through three scrimmages in less than a week, Chizik said, "I have to give the team a lot of credit. They are really trying to press through. It has been pretty taxing, but that is by design. We know as we get closer, those are going to get few and far between. Tonight was good work and they needed it."

As was the case in the first two scrimmages, senior safety Zac Etheridge, who is recovering from a neck and back injury suffered last season, was held out of action.

Chizik said the Tigers still have improvement to do on offense with the running game, which was better in scrimmage three but not to his liking yet. "We saw some signs of life," he said. "We would have liked to run it a little bit more probably than we did. Again, us being physical up front and dominating the line of scrimmage, I don't think we are there."

Even though the offense outplayed the offense, Chizik said he saw good effort on the defensive side of the football. "I think we are learning a lot of lessons out there that are good ones and we are getting a lot of teaching tools."

The Tigers worked on punt returns in the scrimmage with Darvin Adams, Jonathan Mincy, Quindarius Carr, Jonathan Mincy and Anthony Morgan getting chances to show the coaches what they can do. The coach said the returners were solid.

Chizik announced that three walk-ons have been put on scholarship for fall semester, which starts on Wednesday. The group includes deep snapper Josh Harris, cornerback Woody Parramore and linebacker Wade Christopher. The coach said the news was well-received.

"It was great, our team loved it," Chizik said. "It was a great thing to see. They earned it. We didn't give them anything, we just gave them what they earned."

The Tigers will be off on Wednesday as fall semester classes start and will return to practice on Thursday.

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