April 4, 2009
Auburn, Ala. -
The Auburn football team held its first scrimmage of spring practice Saturday inside Jordan-Hare Stadium, working for just over two hours under sunny skies. The Tigers spent four periods on individual drills and special teams before scrimmaging for approximately 90 plays.
The full-contact scrimmage saw the Tigers place an emphasis on running the ball as there were nearly 60 running plays.
"I think there were some good things that happened today," said head coach Gene Chizik. "I think we have a long way to go everywhere. The emphasis we tried to have going into the scrimmage was running the football and being very physical. Today, I think we probably ran the ball 66 percent of the time. We have got to get back to that physical mentality and I think the kids responded. We did a lot of good things, we did some bad things.
"Overall, it was a good day, I think it really went as planned," Chizik said. "The good thing is we got out, everyone is healthy and I think we got accomplished what we wanted to today. We will watch the film and get better tomorrow."
Junior quarterback Kodi Burns was pleased with the efforts of the offense, but noted that there is plenty of room for improvement.
"It was fun, it has been a while since I got out there," said Burns. "We started off really good, had some ups and some downs, good things and bad things, but that is expected from our first scrimmage. There are a lot of things we are going to have to shore up, but once we get in the film room, we will get those things corrected."
Implemented in the scrimmage was a detailed scoring system that awarded both the offense and defense for positive plays created on either side of the ball. When the scrimmage was completed, the defense had the upper hand, outscoring the offense thanks to a late forced turnover.
"It was kind of nice to have a moving ball session and have a system to keep score," said defensive lineman Zach Clayton. "That way you have a distinct winner and loser and more of the plays count. It was definitely nice to get out there and do some things today. We are progressing right now, just trying to get better with each practice. We have an uphill battle to the end and we are trying to keep steady and work through it."
Quarterbacks were made live during some instances during the scrimmage and were off-limits to contact the remainder of the practice.
"It was great, I love going out there and being live," said quarterback Neil Caudle. "It's not good when you get hit pretty hard, but if you go out there and have a rush come at you and you are able to avoid it and throw the ball, it is really great and you get a good feel of how you are going to move in the pocket in a real game."
Senior running back Ben Tate noted post-practice the opportunity to go through live competition and being pushed by the coaches to improve each day.
"It was fun, being able to go live and have that competition," Tate said. "It was fun. Football is fun, as long as you are playing and everything is going right. The coaches are great, they are pushing us to do the right things and the things they want us to do for us to be successful. That is all you can do, listen to them, they know what they are talking about. They want us to do what it is going to take to be successful and win ball games."
Auburn will return to the practice fields Sunday at 5 p.m. Sunday's practice will mark the Tigers' seventh session of spring.
A-Day presented by the U.S. Navy is April 18 at 1 p.m. CT at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Tickets for A-Day are $5 and are currently available for purchase online at autickets.com or at the Auburn Ticket Office located at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Colisuem from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Online ordering will be available until April 10th, as all ticket orders will be mailed on that date. After April 10th, tickets will be available for purchase in person at the ticket office or on game day at the stadium. Game day sales will be cash/check only.
Auburn University students presenting a valid ID will receive free admission and will enter at the student gates on the stadium's east side.
A Punt, Pass and Kick Contest for ages 8-13 will be held on the football practice fields behind the Football Complex from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the first 500 participants will receive a free t-shirt. Prizes from Under Armour and Gatorade will be awarded and the winners from each age group will be recognized on the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium during halftime of the A-Day game.
The Tiger Team Village, featuring inflatable games, sponsor sampling, face painting, and appearances by the Auburn cheerleaders, Tiger Paws and Aubie will be located on the Athletic Complex Football Practice Fields from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
A free post-game autograph session with Coach Gene Chizik, the Auburn coaching staff and players will be held on Pat Dye Field inside Jordan-Hare Stadium following the game.
QUOTING THE COACHES
Head Coach Gene Chizik
"We just finished our first scrimmage, about 90 plays, and I think there were some good things that happened today. I think we have a long way to go everywhere. The emphasis we tried to have going into the scrimmage was running the football and being very physical. Today, I think we probably ran the ball 66 percent of the time.
There is a means to the madness, we have got to get back to that physical mentality and I think the kids responded. We did a lot of good things, we did some bad things. We had some explosive plays, turned the ball over. Things of that nature, we are really emphasizing on both sides of the ball. I think that some of both of those things happened today. Special teams-wise, we really have to get a lot of that buttoned up with our kicking game and we are working on that. I think overall, it was a good day, I think it really went as planned. The good thing is we got out, everyone is healthy and I think we got accomplished what we wanted to today. We will watch the film and get better tomorrow."
"We had some big runs and some big catches in there. We are trying to measure those as 15-yard gains or more and we had some both ways, both running the football and throwing the ball. We kept score as an offense and a defense. We give the defense ways and opportunities to score points. It was a really, really close match - it came down to the last series and we turned the ball over offensively at that point, which, as you know, can change a game. I think it was a really good learning experience for the whole football team. We had explosive plays on both sides of the ball, we had some big hits on defense. We had some turnovers gained, defensively. Conversely, we had some big plays offensively, throwing the ball down the field some and running the ball, as well. There is a lot of give-and-take there, but it was a good day."
"I understand (making quarterbacks live) it is risky at times, we did not do it the whole practice today. Again, you've got to be able to have a gauge when you are trying to measure two or three close guys in a battle right now - what is going to separate them? With two-hand tag, it is hard to separate them. You have got to be selective on when you go live, and again we did not do it the whole day, but we tried to get everybody some series of it being live. If we are going to run the football with the quarterback, he's got to learn how to tuck the ball away and not turn it over. When the offensive line knows that the quarterback is live, I think that changes a little bit of their mentality sometimes in practice. It is a little risky, and we know that, but we have got to get a little separation here now that we are halfway through spring practice."
Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn
"We were really focused on running the football today, we had about a 90-play scrimmage and I like the physical play that our guys showed. We have a long way to go, but you can tell we have improved from the first time we practiced. We made a few mistakes. We rotated just about everybody in to give them a chance. It was a great day to have an evaluation. We will look at the film and start being able to narrow things down, hopefully."
"As many people as we rotated in, there were some really good things that we saw. We are trying to get that physical, hard-nosed, edge mentality and we are working on playing extremely fast. We feel like we got better in those two areas. It is hard to point anybody out right now, until you watch the film and you will see some more. We had some mistakes today, which will happen when you rotate that many people. But, I feel we got better."
"We let the quarterbacks go live some and when you do that, you get a chance to see some things that maybe you couldn't otherwise. It will be really important to see the film and we will be able to tell a little bit more from that. When you are really, truly competing, and we want our quarterbacks to have that hard edge too, you are able to evaluate a lot clearer when you do that, so I like that we did that today."
Defensive Coordinator Ted Roof
"The offense's objective was to run the ball and in this league you have to stop the run to be able to win, so our objective was to stop the run. I thought at times we did a good job at that, we got some takeaways, we gave up some plays, but I think overall we took a step forward and it was a good scrimmage."
"I don't want to get into individual guys, it is about us getting better as a football team and as a group. There were a lot of good things. We are going to get a lot of good teaching off that tape. We looked to a lot of different players today and got some looks, so we will be able to evaluate things as we move forward to figure out what we need to do and who we need to do it with."
"It is great (having a scrimmage completed). As a coach, it is so valuable because when you come to the stadium, there are no coaches on the field correcting each play. You let players play and you find out what they really know and how they respond to things. The number of plays today, they were a little bit longer than what we've practiced, so it was good to see how guys respond when they are gassed."