April 16, 2011

Defense wins A-Day, but score doesn't matter

Auburn's A-Day game score read 63-32 in favor of the defense, but according to head coach Gene Chizik, that doesn't mean much.

"Here's what you need to take away from it: Don't read too deeply into the score," Chizik said.

The bizarre scoring system rewarded the defense for accomplishments like sacks (four points) and tackles for loss (two points). The offense had a more traditional outline as it was given the usual six points for a touchdown and three points for a field goal. Things got confusing as two points were given for plays that accounted for 15 or more yards and for three consecutive first downs.

Only one touchdown was scored - a Barrett Trotter-to-Philip Lutzenkirchen 19-yard connection at the 9:29 mark in the first quarter.

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said he will have a better opinion of the game after he closely watches the film. However, there is one thing that is already clear to him.

"There was some good stuff, some sloppy stuff," Malzahn said. "That's what sticks out in my mind, to be honest with you."

Specifically, linebacker Harris Gaston forced tight end Cameron Groce to fumble. The ball was recovered by safety Drew Cole.

Malzahn added that while he would have liked to score more touchdowns, the evaluation of the offense will be based on more than just points.

"You look at it all together," Malzahn said. "Obviously we'd like to get in the end zone a little bit more. But when you're evaluating and trying to figure out guys you want on Saturdays... And we're getting closer. And there were some good things. But obviously I'd like to get in the end zone a few more times than one."

As for the defense, the most points were racked up by sacks (seven) and tackles for loss (five) for 38 total points.

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof described the day as "vanilla" and said the defense didn't call a lot of things that are in its package.

"Everybody played," Roof said. "Everybody got rewarded. It's great for these kids - especially the down-the-line guys who have what some people might consider thankless jobs. They get to come out and play in front of a nice crowd on a great day in Jordan-Hare Stadium."

Overall, he was pleased with what he saw out of his players.

"I thought they did some good things," Roof said. "Going into a game like this, you want to execution of your base calls, you want to effort and you want to see tackling efficiency. For the most part, we did well. There are things we need to clean up."

The Tigers' final practice of the spring falls on Monday morning. Chizik said the day will focus on teaching and polishing.

"It's going to be kind of a recap of the things that we need to clean up that we saw today," Chizik said. "It will be a polish-up of the things that they are really going to need to concentrate on in the summer. So, we are going to be able to go out and really give to them, on the field, the things that we feel like drill-wise and things of that nature that they need to work on on their own."



QB race continues




When asked if he thinks the quarterback competition between junior Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley will extend into the fall, Chizik gave a simple answer.

"I do," Chizik said.

Trotter completed 6-of-12 passes for 120 yards with a touchdown today. Moseley, who earned most of his stats in the second half, accounted for 82 yards as he completed 9-of-15 passes. Redshirt walk-on Logan Paul got some action today as he went 7-of-13 for 66 yards.

All quarterbacks donned orange no-contact jerseys and experienced at least one sack today. Moseley was sacked five times while Trotter and Paul were "tagged" once apiece.

Moseley was frustrated by the unflattering statistic.

"There's a lot of opportunities I wish we were live, but that's just part of not being live is not taking chances and giving the benefit of the doubt to the defense," Moseley said. "But, yeah, it's pretty frustrating."

However, one play in particular made Moseley glad he was protected by the orange jersey.

"Dee Ford coming off the blind side," Moseley said. "I'm really glad I'm not live. It's just one of those situations you've just got to go with it."

Trotter said he felt like he and the offense had a good performance today.

"We definitely did better than last Saturday," Trotter said. "The other day I don't think we had even one touchdown. We had one today, at least. It's hard to judge in this kind of situation. You're starting on the (30) every time, that we don't really have the field position game. But overall, I think we did better this Saturday than we did last Saturday."

Regardless of their performances today, Malzahn and Chizik won't decide on a starting quarterback until there is no doubt in the player who can lead the team to success.

"The first year we were here we didn't make the call (until the end of fall camp)," Malzahn said. "Last year, we did it a week after. It's just like any other position, when we're 110 percent certain sure we'll do that."

Chizik said both Trotter and Moseley have made some good plays, but haven't made enough on a regular basis.

"I think that they are very similar in nature right now," Chizik said. "I think probably the thing that stands out most after going through the past 14 days is the inconsistency from both of them. That is what we are trying to get out of our quarterback position right now. We are trying to find someone who can manage the game and manage the team and protect the football and things of that nature. They both do that fairly well.

"There were some open balls out there today that we had, and we missed. We just have to be more consistent at that position, but both of them have a very good feel for the offense. They understand that they have a good feel for it. I don't think that that is an issue. Obviously the more they are in there with live fast reps, the more that it will help. Overall, consistency is what we are looking for in moving forward."
Moseley and Trotter both said they will both patiently wait until the coaches make their decision.

"We don't really know what to expect," Moseley said. "With Coach Malzahn, it's all on him. We just do the best we can and just whenever he makes his decision, he'll let us know. But we just do everything we can until then."



Quick-hitters




*** Defensive end Joel Bonomolo missed all of 2010 with a shoulder injury. Today, he led the team in tackles with seven and two sacks.

"He got out there and got a lot of opportunities today and was in position to make some plays and made some plays," Roof said. "He did a good job."

*** Justin Delaine, another defensive end who took a redshirt in 2010, also made plays. He accounted for six total tackles with one tackle for a loss of five yards.

"He's worked hard to get better," Roof said. "He's a big, raw athlete that we just kind of leave in one spot and let him keep working there, building up reps until he becomes a master of his trait because he's very raw, but he's made strides. He's got a chance to be a good player."

*** Running back Ladarious Phillips was kept on the sidelines in 2010 because of a foot injury, but earned playing time today. He caught a pass thrown by Paul for 19 yards.

"He can definitely do lots of different stuff for us and line up in all different places," Trotter said. "And that really gives the defense a hard time trying to figure out how we're lining up consecutively, because we do so many different things."

*** Running back Michael Dyer only participated in the first series of the game. He racked up 15 yards of three carries in the process. Even though he wasn't on the field much, he was impressed by the offensive line.

"They came out today, showed toughness, finished off blocks and gave the quarterbacks time to pass the ball," Dyer said. "They did a great job today. That was a big step forward for our offense."

*** Dyer has seen improvement throughout the offense this spring.

"Our wide receivers have done a tremendous job with routes and blocking," Dyer said. "And our line has come along with pass protection and opening up holes, and our quarterbacks are doing a good job reading their keys. I think everybody has done a good job this spring, everybody got better in some way. It was a good spring."

*** Senior left tackle A.J. Greene played today for the first time since suffering a nasty injury in the Sept. 18 Clemson game in which he dislocated his ankle and fractured his tibia. Greene was thrilled to be back on the field.

"It's been awhile since I've been out there in front of the fans," Greene said. "I was glad to be back out there with my boys, battling out there with them again."

He is still recovering from the injury.

"It's almost there," Greene said. "Of course the injury that I had, I'm going to feel pain, but you've just got to fight through that."

*** Greene was impressed by his backup, redshirt freshman Chad Slade.

"Chad is going to be a great player," Greene said. "I think he's going to be a good player here. He has a lot more growing to do. In due time - look out for him. He's going to be a good player. He's a really good kid, he works hard and I'm excited about him."

*** Redshirt freshman cornerback Jonathan Mincy made some big plays, particularly in the first half. Roof took notice.

"I tell ya, I though Jonathan was in a position to make some good plays," Roof said. "He competed well. The whole thing with young guys is consistency - doing it on a more consistent basis. He's had a good spring, he's made strides and just got to keep working."

*** Running back Anthony Morgan put up a team-high 57 yards off six carries despite wearing a brace on his left knee.

"He battled injuries, so we wanted to get him some touches," Malzahn said. "He's got some tailback skills. He's still not 100 percent but he did make some good runs."

Malzahn agreed that Morgan is somewhat of a mix between Dyer and McCalebb.

"He's somewhere in between," Malzahn said. "We think we can run between the tackles and also he's got the speed to get to the edge."



 

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