Auburn’s first full-scale scrimmage of the spring produced the same mixed reactions it normally does immediately afterward.
There were good things. There were bad things. But one thing stood out.
“The main thing was the effort was good and I thought the energy level was good,” Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said, “which is what you look for on the first scrimmage.”
Auburn ran between 100 and 120 plays at Jordan-Hare Stadium. It was closed to the public and media, so details are hazy, but coaches and players seemed pleased with their first full-speed scrimmage situation.
“Today, we knew we weren’t going to have time to think,” cornerback T’Sharvan Bell said. “Everything was like rapid fire.”
The Tigers mixed in plenty of players in different groups, leading to a somewhat disjointed scrimmage, particularly with the team’s youth.
Offensive coordinator Gus Malzan had to remind himself at times how much turnover the offense had from last year.
“My expectations are real high,” he said. “We’re rotating so many guys. And it’s not pretty sometimes. We’re not where we want to be. But it’s kind of expected. I’m getting a little impatient.”
Still, Chizik has been pleased with what he’s seen out of the young group this spring.
“It has really been enjoyable to be around this football team because we’ve got a lot of young guys who are hungry and eager to play football for Auburn,” he said.
Here are a few other notes from today’s scrimmage:
- It sounds like the offense had the better day overall. Confirmed touchdowns today by Quindarius Carr, Emory Blake and Philip Lutzenkirchen.
- Trotter said he didn’t have any touchdowns or picks. Moseley had two touchdowns and (supposedly) one pick. “Today was the first time I really felt I was playing football instead of trying to remember everything,” Moseley said. “Today I was actually competing.”
- The quarterbacks had some exchange problems with the centers, but otherwise protected the ball, a priority by the coaches.
- Neither Trotter nor Moseley seems to be ahead in the QB battle, something Malzahn doesn’t see changing based on today. “It’s going to be hard to distinguish one from the other I believe after this scrimmage,” he said.
- Who had the big plays? Onterio McCalebb and Mike Dyer had some big runs. “And we expect them to,” Malzahn said.
- Bell sounds like the defensive star of the day. He had an interception (allegedly off Moseley) on a checkdown to McCalebb. “Pick was going for 6, but coach Chizik blew the whistle,” Bell said.
- Bell also recovered a fumble after Anthony Morgan bobbled the handoff. “He was just trying to give us a present because he was a defensive guy,” Bell joked. “I understood it.”
- Safety Neiko Thorpe said early enrollee Jonathan Rose also had a pick.
- Malzahn said senior Chris Humphries is working as a blocking back. He played defensive line last year. “He’s a tough kid,” Malzahn said. “And he’s not scared. He’s a physical guy.”
- Malzahn said the offensive line looked “a little ugly at times.” He said they’re still trying to figure out a starting five. “We’re definitely not there yet,” Chizik said. “But they’re really trying to understand the importance of the physicality of the game inside with our power running game.”
- Defensive end Nosa Eguae said the offensive line is a work in progress. “They’re working,” he said. “They’re maulin’ up front. They’re really trying to get their nasty streak.”
- Wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor said walk-on Cameron Groce did well today. “To be honest, I know his name now,” Taylor said. “Because coming into camp, I just thought he was going to be another guy on the line. But he’s really stepped up.”
- Taylor on Carr: “I think a lot of it is just bad habits, because he hasn’t played much. He’s starting to understand that we can’t just put him in as a deep threat.”
- Taylor didn’t give a first group at receiver, per se, but did list DeAngelo Benton, Blake, Trovon Reed, Carr, Lutz and Groce as ahead of the rest.
- Reed, Carr, Demetruce McNeal and Jonathon Mincy worked at punt return, which was live and will remain so for the duration of spring as the Tigers try to find an answer to an ongoing problem. “That’s been like one of our Achilles heels since we’ve been here,” Chizik said. Taylor said Carr and Reed are probably the two best right now.
- Defensive coordinator Ted Roof didn’t give out too many specifics today, but he did like the overall effort. “You want them to compete, fight, give effort,” he said. “If you don’t do that, you got no chance.”