BY RYAN BLACK | firstname.lastname@example.org
AUBURN, Ala. — Jermaine Whitehead had no doubt which unit won Wednesday’s scrimmage.
Of course, the junior safety admitted he’s far from an impartial observer. Nonetheless, he said it was a no-contest in favor of the defense.
“Hands down, we won,” he said. “I don’t care if (the offense) put up a hundred. We won.”
While he was being a bit factitious, Whitehead walked off the field feeling good about the unit’s performance. However, he reined in his enthusiasm a bit when asked for a letter grade.
“I’d say, B, B-minus” he said. “But I won’t know until I watch the film. I think we made some great plays. I think it was probably way better than a B. But being hard on myself, I always want to get better, so I never give (things) an A.”
Jake Holland was more restrained in his assessment of the scrimmage.
“I felt like today was a good day,” he said. “There were mistakes made, but there were some good plays, too. … I thought it was a progressive day. I thought we got better.”
The senior linebacker was just happy to get back on the field, seeking to further distance himself from the Tigers’ disastrous 3-9 record last year.
“It’s definitely a different feel,” he said. “Our calls and adjustments, we’re able to get them in really fast and play really fast. That’s allowing us to make plays. That’s helping us a lot.”
“We all seen great strides especially from the spring,” he said. “I think we learned the defense, it kind of (sunk in) on us and we got a chance to run it and perfect it. Some day we (will run) it to perfection. We missed a play or two a day, but we’re going to get it perfect. We’re going to get it right.”
Offensive line coach J.B. Grimes absent
A key piece of Auburn’s coaching staff was missing from Wednesday’s scrimmage.
Offensive line coach J.B. Grimes was absent after having an undisclosed medical procedure performed earlier in the day. Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn said Grimes won’t be gone for long, though.
“He’ll be back tomorrow,” Malzahn said. “It shouldn’t be a problem.”
To fill the void, Malzahn stepped in to help the offensive line “a little bit more” during the scrimmage. He wasn’t alone, as offensive graduate assistant Johnny Brewer pitched in, too.
“And of course, (offensive coordinator) Coach (Rhett) Lashlee was on top of them a little bit more,” Malzahn said. “I think we just all combined. We’ve got good leadership and (junior center) Reese Dismukes. It wasn’t an issue today.”
Indoor scrimmage doesn’t hinder Tigers
Jordan-Hare Stadium was originally the intended venue for Wednesday’s scrimmage.
Mother Nature had other ideas.
Rough weather moved into the area before the Tigers stepped on the field, soaking the playing surface. Though it cleared up, Auburn decided to move the scrimmage back to its indoor practice facility.
It wasn’t ideal, but Malzahn didn’t think his team was negatively affected by holding the scrimmage indoors.
“I was curious to see how our kids would react,” he said. “I know there’s nothing like going into our stadium but I was really impressed with the way our players were excited to scrimmage.”
Whitehead proved to be the embodiment of that sentiment.
“Football is football,” he said. “We’ll play in the parking lot. I want to play football.”
Safety Demetruce McNeal sat out the scrimmage, marking the 11th consecutive practice he has missed dating back to the spring. He is day-to-day after having minor surgery caused by an infection. … There were no injuries to report following the scrimmage. “I think everybody made it out pretty much OK,” Malzahn said. …. The Tigers will likely have two practices tomorrow, according to Malzahn. “We’ll have another good practice,” he said. (Then) we’ll focus on some special teams in the second practice.”