BY RYAN BLACK | firstname.lastname@example.org
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn’s coaching staff feels comfortable at several positions.
That’s why head coach Gus Malzahn said “a couple” starters were held out of the team’s scrimmage on Saturday, giving he and his assistants a chance to further evaluate other players.
“If we had the proper information and we were trying to worry about the guy behind them, there were certain players that we did hold out,” he said.
One of those players was junior cornerback Jonathon Mincy, who only played on special teams. That meant he got to watch everything else that took place during the scrimmage.
And he was disappointed with the play of his fellow defenders.
“I felt like the offense came out and executed more plays,” he said. “The defense gave us a lot of explosive plays. That’s something we’re going to get corrected in the film room.”
Asked to name even one positive he saw from the defense, Mincy couldn’t bring himself to do it.
“I wouldn’t say any big plays stuck out,” he said, “because there were so many explosive plays from our offense.”
No one stood out more than Ricardo Louis. The sophomore wide receiver was the star of the scrimmage, hauling in at least one touchdown catch, possibly two. Mincy and receiver Quan Bray couldn’t agree on a set number.
The fact remains that he made multiple catches for big yardage, which Bray said the Miami native has done since fall camp began.
“Today was really a breakout just to show everyone he can do it,” he said. “We definitely know because he’s a baller, and I can’t wait to see him break out this year.”
While he was pleased to see the offense starting to pick things up, Mincy didn’t like that his defensive teammates allowed it to occur. Even though he wasn’t on the field for it, the competitive fire runs deep.
He wants other defensive backs to feel that same way.
“We have to make sure that everybody has that mind-set that ‘Nobody gets beat deep. Ever,’” He said. That’s something we’re going to get corrected from last year. That’s something the defense has to take pride in.”
There was one bright spot for the defense, as it picked off one pass that Bray said wasn’t helped by a bobbled snap.
“Those things come in a game,” he said. “You’ve just got to overcome adversity.”
The defense can relate.
Mincy said the defense — and the secondary, specifically — will need to get over its lackluster showing Saturday. Those kinds of breakdowns can’t happen if they’re going to make a turnaround this fall.
Their biggest ally now is time.
“This is the first time coming out here with the heat bumping on us like this,” he said. “You’ve got to have mental toughness. That’s something we’ve got to face. We’ve got to keep going out there and chopping down wood.”