April 13, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN — Auburn will scrimmage Saturday morning in Jordan-Hare Stadium. The best part about that?
"It's one of our three major times we can have a full-scale scrimmage. It's obviously very important," says defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson.
It's also important for a depth chart that is currently written in invisible ink.
"We've told our guys from Day One: No jobs are set. Really, each day, your job is up for grabs. We're still giving guys equal reps. Each day is an evaluation," said offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.
The NCAA limits schools to three spring practices featuring game-type, tackle-heavy work. Saturday will be one of them on the way to next week's A-Day Game in the stadium.
"You can throw every day, you can block every day, you can run routes every day, you can run coverages every day, but you can't tackle every day," Johnson said.
"In baseball, they'll let you hit every day. They let you catch every day. They let you throw every day. They let you pitch every day. In football, they don't let you tackle every day. I've never figured that out. It's a sport that has an injury factor. That's where it all comes from.
"When we get our chance to tackle, we have to take advantage of it and really do a good job with it."
It's also a chance to see how players handle themselves in games.
"You find out about those guys who can really handle it on Saturday, the big picture," Johnson said. "Offense running what they want to run and we're running what we want to run and everything's not scripted so you're working on certain things. You kind of find those guys who can handle the game situation as opposed to being a great drill player."
Johnson introduced a three-man defensive front in Friday's practice, but the goal this spring has been to learn his defensive-back-heavy 4-2-5 defense.
"We're trying to evaluate guys physically. Evaluating a guy mentally is important too, because if he can't handle that stuff you're not going to play him," Johnson said. "It is a part of player evaluation, but we don't need to put in 100 defenses to find out if a player can play.
"We need to put in some things, maybe see a blitz, maybe see him play man, maybe see if he can play against the tight end if he's a defensive end. A lot of things you do need to find out about them and that odd package could be a little bit of that. We're just putting that in so we can get reps against the offense. They wanted to see it more than we wanted to do it. the good thing is we're getting it on film and it will be a great teaching tool over the summer for the players."
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