Coach Gene Chizik put his football team through a longer scrimmage on Saturday than three days earlier, but continued to give young players plenty of opportunities to show what they could do.
Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes is one of the assistants who will have plenty of scrimmage video to study of his newcomers in action at Jordan-Hare Stadium where they will open the season in three weeks vs. Arkansas State.
“They are all making progress, but they all have a long way to go, too,” Grimes tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. “We are not in a position to say which one of those guys is ready to fit in to provide depth.
“They all came from different high school systems and some come from systems where they don’t do a lot of the things we do so they are still learning,” Grimes notes. “We are going to give them more time before we make decisions on the young guys.”
Commenting on how the front-liners performed, the coach says, “I think we made some progress. Watching five guys in a scrimmage it is always hard to know until you watch the tape, but I think we got better and made some progress. We got a lot of reps in, more than last time we scrimmaged, and we needed that.”
Ryan Pugh is running first team at center and the three other returning starters are also holding their starting roles with Byron Isom and Mike Berry at the guard spots and Lee Ziemba at left tackle.
Ziemba, a preseason All-SEC pick from the league's coaches, is player who Grimes says he has high expectations for this year. However, the right tackle position is still open.
John Sullen opened the scrimmage running with the ones, but shared playing time with juco transfers Roszell Gayden and Brandon Mosley along with junior A.J. Greene, who has been working on the left side.
Grimes says the competition for the starting role will continue with the season opener three weeks away. “We will keep doing that until we get to the point until we know a little bit more,” he says. “Somebody could step ahead. I have no problem saying who the starter is next week, but also have no problem waiting until game one.”
Pugh, who has been in the starting lineup since he was a freshman, says he liked what he saw in the scrimmage. “It went good and I think we got better and we cut down on the penalties up front as far a motion penalties,” he says. “With this group, with the experience that we have got, we shouldn’t have any with the first group and that was the case today, and that was a real positive sign for us.
“I think the first team offense moved the ball well and we had some explosive plays,” Pugh adds. “We had some young guys making explosive plays. Trovon Reed had a heck of a run, a couple of them. He probably had 150 yards rushing.”
Reed is a freshman wide receiver, who missed the first scrimmage with a leg problem, but returned to practice on Thursday. He is a candidate to play wildcat quarterback along with senior Kodi Burns, who threw a touchdown pass in the scrimmage.
In other news and notes from the scrimmage:
*Coach Gene Chizik says there is a good battle going on to be the starting punter. Ryan Shoemaker was a Freshman All-SEC punter in 2007, but has been a backup the past two years to Clinton Durst, who was a senior in 2009. This year Shoemaker’s challenge is from newcomer Steven Clark, a signee out of Kansas City, Mo., who won a national punting competition last summer.
Steven Clark punts during Saturday’s scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Clark played multiple positions in high school, but is a full-time punter for the Tigers.
Ryan Shoemaker, a senior, launches a punt in Auburn’s scrimmage.
*Sophomore Dee Ford, who is up to 6-4, 240 pounds, has changed his look with a year in Coach Kevin Yoxall’s strength and conditioning program. “I am more confident knowing that I weigh 20 to 30 more pounds than I?did last year,” he says. “You can play a lot better when you are confident.”
*Another defensive end from the 2009 signee class, Nosa Egaue, was one of the standouts of the scrimmage and is a guy who has won praise from defensive line coach Tracy Rocker. Egaue will be a redshirt freshman this season.
*Early high school graduate Jessel Curry is proving to be an active linebacker and the former Buford, Ga., High standout looks like he could see plenty of action this season as a true freshman.
*Another true freshman battling to get into the playing rotation is Jake Holland from Pelham, who is competing with Harris Gaston for the backup role behind senior Josh Bynes.
*Another freshman pushing for playing time is defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker, who made several good plays in the scrimmage.
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