BY RYAN BLACK | email@example.com
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn’s defense will have to do without one of its best players for an unknown period of time.
Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson confirmed hybrid linebacker/safety Justin Garrett suffered a left foot injury during Saturday’s scrimmage, though he was unsure of the nature or extent of it.
“I don’t know if he got stepped on or got kicked. They’re definitely evaluating that now,” Johnson said Sunday. “I don’t know anything in detail about it. He obviously didn’t practice today, but don’t know anything about the seriousness other than the timeframe.”
Garrett was healthy heading into Saturday, though Johnson noted the defensive MVP of this spring’s A-Day game missed one day of practice earlier this week due to a knee bruise. When the coaching staff noticed he had no push off from his left foot on Saturday, they pulled him out immediately.
Johnson wouldn’t even begin to contemplate what a long-term injury to Garrett could mean for his defense.
“I don’t want to get into hypotheticals,” he said. “He’s had a great camp. He had a great spring. We obviously know he’s one of our impact players. I don’t think any team in the country can lose an impact player and not have some issues.”
Regardless of how much time Garrett has to miss, it will mean an increased role for Mackenro Alexander. The true freshman has been No. 3 at the star position behind Garrett and Robenson Therezie since he stepped on campus.
Johnson said Alexander is going through the peaks and valleys many would expect from a first-year player, which manifested itself in the scrimmage.
“He struggled,” Johnson said. “He made some really bad mistakes but he made a couple of good tackles and some plays on the ball. It was good that he got a shot to get in there.”
Demetruce McNeal will likely be back in some capacity this week. The senior safety has yet to participate in fall camp, sidelined by a minor surgery caused by an infection. “It’s slowly getting better,” Johnson said. “We’re pretty optimistic right now that he’ll be on the field next week.” … After getting a chance to view the film from Saturday’s scrimmage, Johnson was left wanting far more from his unit. “It was very, very iffy,” he said. “They’re still in the learning process, and there are a lot of mental assignments.”