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Justin Garrett on the move as Auburn ramps up practice
Oct. 19, 2014

Justin Garrett can become a hit as an Auburn linebacker these days

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Justin Garrett was too valuable to be on the sidelines as a backup, Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson figured, so he moved him to a position with a more immediate future.

Meet Justin Garrett, a player who once manned the Star position, who has joined Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzy in a linebacker rotation for the two available spots.

"I see them all right now getting equal number of reps," Johnson said Sunday night.

Johnson's linebacker rotation is deeper now because he can still call on Anthony Swain, Tre' Williams, JaViere Mitchell and others. They'll be on duty when Auburn plays host to South Carolina at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Auburn will be in more of a serious practice mode this week after a bye week devoted to fundamentals. Johnson said there will be more "good-on-good" practice rather than the first team working against the scout team going forward.

Garrett was supposed to be the starter at Star last season, but an injury knocked him out of there, opening the door for Robenson Therezie to have a big year. Garrett played in only two games last year and was redshirted.

Therezie is still the star, and Garrett is on the move.

"He's been really good," Johnson said. "He's played as well as the other guys did the last game and didn't practice the whole week. He's fine. There are a couple things that will pop here and there about an adjustment or a key or something like that, but I think he's going to help us a lot in there.

"The biggest thing is his speed and quickness. He's physical. He's a natural inside linebacker. We moved him to Star not knowing what Therezie's situation was.

"You can't have Justin Garrett sitting on the sideline for 55 snaps. We're trying to find a way to get the best 11 on the field on any one play."

Auburn was back at practice Sunday after a back-to-basics bye week. 

"Physically, we had shorter and more intense practices. I think we got a lot of good fundamental work and we also didn’t overdo it physically. Our kids needed a break," Johnson said. "We had a good session today, went a little bit longer than a regular Sunday. But they needed some physical rest and we needed just get a little South Carolina base and some good crossover, going good on good. We got all that done and I think it was a good open week."

Johnson said the practice routine could change going forward.

"We're probably going to go back and do a little more fundamentals and try to get a little more crossover good-on-good when we can," he said. "But we've got to be healthy to do that. And a little less scout team work. I think we've got into a routine where we're working against the scout team too many reps and not enough good-on-good. We don't want to become an assignment team. We want to be a good fundamental team that tackles well and gets off blocks, and not try to solve everything on the chalk board.

"It's that time of the year you have to be careful banging them on too much."

"We haven't been able to do as much physical good-on-good as you'd like, but we have to be smart about it this time of the year."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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