April 6, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN -- There may not be an official halfway point of spring practice at Auburn, but today's scrimmage in Jordan-Hare Stadium is as close it gets.
It's the seventh of 15 practices, counting the April 20 A-Day Game, and it's the first full-blown scrimmage to impress the coaches. It's a chance for players, and while there won't be a written depth chart when the day is through, there will be some ideas floating about.
The scrimmage in Jordan-Hare Stadium is closed to the public, but hundreds of high school coaches who attended the school's annual coaching clinic will be on hand.
Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson calls the scrimmage "a huge thing."
"It's not going to be as much about Xs-and-Os... It's really more about fundamentals and seeing if we're going to improve in tackling," Johnson said.
Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said "the No. 1 thing we're looking for as coaches is attention to detail and discipline. Here we are, now six days in, and we're still way too inconsistent."
Lashlee is looking for consistency. Johnson is looking for tackling.
They're both looking for handling the fast-tempo of Gus Malzahn's game.
"We probably are pleasantly surprised on the way they've picked up new things they've not done before, or things we're calling a little differently," Johnson said. "On the other hand, I think we're a long, long way, especially when we're doing to the fast-tempo operations, a long way from cleaning up enough missed assignments and other things that are hurting us.
"I know we're physically in condition, but mentally right now we're not staying focused through that."
Johnson will be looking for this today:
"The No. 1 thing is the effort to the ball. The No. 2 is our tackling, we got to see that improve, the physical part of it, the fundamentals part of it. I think the third thing, we're not trying to game plan or anything, but we got some things in that have been performed since the first, second or third practice and I want to see some consistency in that."
Lashlee's first priority, he says, will be details. No. 2? "Mental toughness."
"I'm not real sure -- as a matter of fact I know -- that we're not where we need to be mentally tough right now. Now don't get me wrong -- their attitudes are great. They're giving us what they think is all they've got and they're hanging on every word their coaches are saying, and they're trying to do what we ask them to do. But, we've got to learn to push ourselves. Push ourselves beyond what we think we can. And so, mentally, I'd like to see us get a little tougher."
"Their attitudes are great, they're trying to do everything they can to the best of their ability, trying to lead their guys," Lashlee said. "But it's tough when you've got a lot of things going on and a lot of things moving fast and you've got to be on every little detail and you've got to also process that information quickly. I'm not frustrated at all; I'm just determined to get them where we need to be at the end of Day 15."
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