Saturday, April 18, 2009

A-Day scrimmage

There's a lot to get to, but I also have a lot of print work to do.
Here are some highlights:

The first-team defense and first-team offense never faced off. The offense won 57-31.
Today's announced attendance of 45,381 is the largest recorded crowd in A-Day history.
Auburn’s offense finished with only five plays of 40-plus yards in 2008. It matched that total during Saturday’s scrimmage, which featured four 12-minute quarters and a running clock.
Running back Ben Tate rushed for 72 yards and two touchdowns during the first-team offense’s first two drives. He scored on runs of 46 and 9 yards and earned Offensive MVP honors despite playing just two drives.
Terrell Zachery scored on a 70-yard end around. Onterio McCalebb scored on a 75-yard run.
Mario Fannin accounted for 93 yards on two rushes and four catches. He had a TD reception.
QB stats: Kodi Burns started with the first-team offense on the first three drives (all scoring drives). He finished 3-of-8 for 48 yards. His long completion was thrown into double coverage and tipped. Could have been an INT, but Fannin caught it. Neil Caudle led scoring drives in the second half. He finished 11-of-16 for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
The second-team defense featured at least five walk-ons. The first-team defense allowed just one first down in three drives.
Your MVPs: Off - Ben Tate; Def - Michael Goggans; Special Teams - Wes Byrum

There weren’t many questions answered during the A-Day scrimmage.
Any doubt that Mario Fannin will touch the ball as much as his talent predicates after his move to H-back, though, was eased by his Saturday performance.
Fannin ran pass routes out of the backfield, got the ball on handoffs, and found ways to make plays whenever the ball was in his hands.
Fannin’s first of six touches came on a 41-yard pass. Kodi Burns lofted a pass into the middle of the field where Fannin was double-covered. A safety got a hand on the pass, but Fannin caught the deflection. From there, he drew a facemask penalty and continued down the field, setting up Auburn for its second touchdown.
Later in the game, Fannin caught a third-and-4 pass a yard shy of the first-down marker but broke at least three tackles and turned the minimal gain into a 17-yard play.
He also snuck out of the backfield for a touchdown from Neil Caudle and averaged 11 yards per carry on his two rushes.
All of Fannin’s production came against the second-team defense, but he thinks his performance shows the offense’s potential.
“I guess you could say we’re just actually getting more disciplined in our roles and what every person has to play in order to make the offense work,” Fannin said. “That’s what I think the main thing goes.”

CONTINUED COMPETITION: Burns and Caudle have both said they would like to know which quarterback will be named the starter sooner rather than later.
Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn told the media after the game, though, that there would be no decision until the fall.
Caudle seemingly had the better scrimmage. He certainly had better statistics and was more accurate – especially on short passes. The scrimmage didn’t necessarily play into Burns’ strengths, though, since quarterbacks were considered down when defenders tagged them.
Burns started the game with the first-team offense and Caudle played the third quarter with the unit.
It’s worth mentioning that Burns didn’t get as many opportunities to throw the ball because the offense scored so quickly on his three drives. The offense scored three times on 10 plays.
“We were scoring so quick, that’s just kind of the way things worked out,” Burns said. “I’m not upset about it at all. It just worked out that way. That’s good. We scored pretty quick. It keeps the ball out of my hands and gets it to the playmakers.”

CATCHING ON: Sophomore Darvin Adams said he spent part of his freshman year wishing the coaches had given him a redshirt.
Instead, he played mostly on special teams.
He put on a show during his first A-Day, though, sending a message that he wants to do more than serve as a special teams contributor in 2009.
Adams caught four passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.
One of Adams’ catches went for 45 yards and probably would have been a touchdown if Caudle hadn’t underthrown him.
Two drives later, Caudle placed a perfect pass to Adams’ outside shoulder. Walk-on safety Matthew Sample was on Adams’ inside shoulder, but Adams came down with the pass and shrugged off the tackle attempt for a 34-yard score.
Harry Adams also showed signs of promise when he took a pass over the middle and turned it into a 13-yard gain. Harry Adams still has some work, though. He had at least one drop and slipped on another route, costing him a reception.

Photo Credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

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