April 12, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN — Rhett Lashlee says he's seen flashes of his offense this spring. But Auburn's offensive coordinator says he'll be looking for more than that in Saturday's scrimmage in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
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It should be a test.
"We're looking for a big jump," Lashlee said after Friday's practice. "We've got to have guys who are mentally tougher than they've been all spring, from being able to execute the plays, to being able to go longer and not get tired, and keep the tempo up when they are tired.
"I want some guys to make some plays. We've had times where maybe we execute and it's been solid. I need some wideouts to make some great catches, running backs to break some tackles, a quarterback to make a great throw. We need to make some 'wow' plays and do some things to spark us. We did that a couple of times today in practice and it showed. It carried over to our team."
Lashlee says the scrimmage will be one of the most important stops on the way to the April 20 A-Day Game. That's why he'll be looking for big plays. And consistency.
"They understand the expectations, and we see flashes," Lashlee said. "We will fall into a lull from time to time. That's common. We've only had nine practices. And now they understand what we want as far as the tempo — we've got to get to the point where we execute. It's one thing to play fast, but you've got to play fast and play smart. That's the consistency we need."
Lashlee said quarterbacks Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace are "getting better."
"They're splitting the reps right now. Nothing will change," he said. "One guy will do a little better one day; one the other, maybe. They've been pretty even. They've been great. They've been competing hard."
•Gus Malzahn said Wednesday he was disappointed with that day's practice. Lashlee said the Tigers bounced back Friday.
"It was much better today," he said. "Wednesday, we didn't feel like we were at our best." Friday, "I thought our guys competed, even when maybe we weren't executing or not making the play, I really felt like our guys competed hard. The energy was better, the competition. We got better today."
•Tre Mason hasn't practiced with the running backs in more than week, giving fellow running backs Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant plenty of work. Lashlee said Mason will be OK.
"You don't want anybody to miss time because the reps are critical… but, at the same time, he's fine," Lashlee said. "We're not playing a game on Saturday. We don't have to rush guys back.
•Lashlee said receivers Quan Bray and Jaylon Denson, and center Reese Dismukes have been the offensive standouts.
"You are starting to talk about guys who have been here for a couple of years," Lashlee said. "We've got other guys who have shown flashes from an ability standpoint, but we've got to get them to do it the whole time. As a whole, offensively we've slowly gotten better.
"What we told them after (the last) scrimmage that we're halfway through spring and the learning curve has got to increase. We want to see a big jump in improvement from now to the end of the spring in about a week and a half. That's where we've got to get better moving forward. If we can do that, I'll feel really good at where we're at. But we can't stay the same over these next six, seven practices."