Friday, August 12, 2011

After further review, Chizik weighs in on scrimmage

After the first of two scheduled practices on Friday, Auburn coach Gene Chizik met with the media and answered an assortment of questions about Wednesday's scrimmage and also about personnel.

Here's what he had to say:

(Opening statement)

"I thought we went out today and started practice off at a great, great tempo. I wish we would have maintained that same tempo near the end. I thought we dropped off just a little bit. But it was a good day overall. We had some good installations on both sides of the ball, so it got a little sloppy out there, especially for some of the young guys who are still learning. It's what we were expecting, but the effort was really good and we've got another practice tonight. So we're making some progress but we've got a long ways to go."

What did you see after looking at film of the scrimmage?

"What sticks out to me is a lot of the young guys. Not that some of the older guys didn't play well also, but when it comes to the young running backs, I thought they had a nice day. I thought Corey Grant ran the ball well, Tre Mason ran the ball well, Blakely ran the ball well. We gave them a lot of opportunities. That's what we wanted to do. We wanted to see where they were at. Erique Florence on the other side of the football, continues to make some big plays . He's learning the process of being fast back there. He had a forced fumble and is really playing aggressive. It's good to see Angelo Blackson on the defensive line, another young guy that's really coming along. He's one of those young guy who you hope surfaces not out of nowhere, but he's one of those guys who pops up and does a great job. He's really working in that direction. So we've got some young guys out there that we're really proud of."

Are you seeing more leadership out of T'Sharvan Bell?

"I don't think there's any question he's doing that. In practice, when everybody's hot and everybody's tired and the whole deal, he's really trying to be a leader and get the energy level up. I think he's made a very conscientious effort to do that."

He seems to have the perception that the coaching staff thought he was soft when he first got here.

"It's interesting how they perceive things. When you come out of high school and you change positions, particularly if you're an offensive player and you're put on the defensive side of the ball, it's a transition, because you're learning, you're thinking, when defensively what you'd like is to see ball and hit ball. It's not that easy. So sometimes you can appear to be cautious, if you will, would be a nice word. That's not necessarily so. Once you learn the game, you can play at a faster speed and be more aggressive. So that's probably more of what the case was."

No problems with his aggressiveness?

"No, he's come a long way. He has not arrived. Let's make sure we understand that. He's got a long way to go too. He's working every day. He's a smart football player. He's really trying to be a leader. He's become a better football player. It's night and day from a year ago until now."

what's the status of (injured) tackle A.J. Greene and (running back) Mike Dyer?

"Those and some other guys are just beat up right now. It's that point in camp after a week and nine practices now with full contact, they're just beat up."



Have you avoided major injuries?

"We have."

How is (running back) Anthony Morgan coming along?

"I think that we've seen flashes of him, where he can really do some nice things. We've seen a lot of instances where we wish he would really step to the plate and really run the football hard, run it downhill. He can be for us, if he'll progress and come on, he'll be good third-down back. He's got great hands. He's at 200 pounds. He can attack. He's got to know all the different blitzes that he's going to get hit with based on the protections that we're in. So he's got an opportunity to help the team, but he's got to come along and do that. Again, we've seen flashes of it, but nothing that says he's going to be the one to do it. He's got some time, but he's got to kick it up here."

How is (linebacker) Jake Holland doing?

"Jake has come on. I think Jake is one of those guys who is very focused in on being a good football player. There's no question in my mind that the more reps that he's taken, along with him playing in pretty much all the games last year, as little or as much as he did, I think all of those are building up. It's becoming apparent. And he's getting better."

Has anyone emerged at quarterback?

"No. Not yet. All three quarterbacks did some nice things this past Wednesday. And again, we're looking forward to tomorrow's scrimmage to continue the evaluation process. I don't want to say there's anything there that would separate them. We've still got a ways to go. That's not to say we have a ways to go before we have to make a choice. I'm not saying when that will be. But nothing that comes to mind that separates them."

With the first game in three weeks, is there anything keeping you up at night?

"No. I think we're right on track for where we need to be. I'll be excited about three weeks from now. But it's been a lot of fun so far."

Who is working at Wildcat quarterback?

"We'll probably have two or three guys in the mix for that. Trovon Reed will probably be one. Quan Bray will possibly be one. That's two, and there might be a third. Those are two guys who would at least be up for discussion."

Has anyone emerged at running back behind Dyer and Onterio McCalebb?

"Let me make this clear too: we have two good running backs, but they're not all they can be yet. They're not even close. I just want to be clear with that one too. They're not sitting there on the side because they've arrived. So they've got a lot of work to do too."

Talk about the new practice field.

"It's been great. The grounds crew did an unbelievable job getting the grass portion of the field ready. Facilities and construction people did just a great job of getting the indoor ready. I think the players, the coaches, everybody is becoming familiar about where we are going to be working on the fields. It's just a great facility."

What kind of progress has Jonathan Rose made?

"Jonathan Rose has a long way to go. He's got to grow up. He's got to keep working. He's got a long way to go."

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