Auburn Scrimmage 4 Notes: Rocker Encouraged

A report on Auburn's fourth preseason football scrimmage is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Tracy Rocker has been hoping the Tigers will be able to play with more depth on the defensive front this season. Following Auburn's fourth preseason football scrimmage on Saturday the defensive line coach said he thinks that will happen for his second season coaching the Tigers.

Saturday's scrimmage was Auburn's fourth of the preseason and much of it featured freshmen and the other young players/backups being watched and video-taped to study how they handled the basics.

"With the young guys we didn't want to be doing a whole lot of things with them," Rocker said. "We wanted to see if they can take on a block correctly, get off a block and do everything correctly and not do this and do this--just learn to play football and take on blocks, get off blocks and see who is physical enough to play in this league. I am very encouraged."

One of the newcomers, Jeffrey Whitaker, is making a strong push for playing time as a freshman defensive tackle as expected.

The other true freshman defensive tackle in the signee class, Kenneth Carter from Greenville High, is doing well, too, the coach said. "Kenneth has made headway and I feel good about Kenneth," Rocker said.

Looking at the newcomers on the defensive front as a whole, Rocker said he is "very encouraged" by what he witnessed on Saturday "I?don't see any redshirting," he said. "I think everybody is going to have to contribute."

However, the defensive line coach added that decisions on redshirting will be made by head coach Gene Chizik, who has also said he is encouraged with how the newcomers on the defensive line are practicing.

Rocker said that during recruiting that he and the other Auburn coaches told recruits they expected the freshmen to be in the mix for playing time. "Part of our selling point was the players would have a chance to play immediately," Rocker said. "We told everyone you are going to have to come in and help this team right now. That is the goal."

In other news and notes from Saturday's practice and scrimmage:

*Rocker said that sophomore defensive tackles Derrick Lykes and Jamar Travis have a challenge for playing time coming from the newcomers and the coach said he told them they have work to do "to get on the bus." Rocker added, "There is no room for mistakes for those guys."

*Rocker said one of the highlights of preseason on the defensive front has been the battle to get into the playing rotation with redshirt freshman Nosa Egaue competing with true freshman Craig Sanders, an early high school graduate who arrived in Auburn in January.

*Daren Bates continues to make a push for the starting strongside linebacker spot and worked with the ones during Saturday's scrimmage. Bates, a sophomore, was a Freshman All-SEC safety last season.

One of the most pleasant surprises of preseason drills has been how quickly Philip Pierre-Louis has progressed from knee surgery after being injured in spring practice. The redshirt sophomore from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has now overcome two surgeries since arriving at AU.

*A.J. Greene got the first reps with the one offense in the scrimmage at right tackle, but after the practice Auburn coaches would not say that a decision has been made on who is going to fill that role handled last year by 2009 senior Andrew McCain. John Sullen, a sophomore who played guard last year, is in the mix with Roszell Gayden, who has been slowed by a knee problem. Brandon Mosley, who has also been competing at right tackle, is working as a backup to Lee Ziemba at left tackle.

*Freshman Trovon Reed, who is working as a punt returner, says that his guess is that Quindarius Carr will open the season as the No. 1 guy.

*The only projected starter who was held out of the scrimmage was tight end/H-back Philip Lutzenkirchen. His position coach, Jay Boulware, said he could have played but the coaches know what he can do.

*A freshman who is getting work at the H-back spot, Shaun Kitchens, had another good day on Saturday and is positioning himself for playing time.

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