April 23, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN — The A-Day Game has come and gone…and Auburn continues to practice football.
The Tigers did it again Tuesday in full pads and "got after it," said coach Gus Malzahn. But even Tuesday's work won't wrap up the spring. The Tigers will do that in another practice Wednesday.
Auburn, the last team to begin spring practice in the SEC, will be the last to finish it as well. But why wait for the finish line? There is no depth chart, but there already has been some reflection on what has transpired by Malzahn, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson.
Here are some players stood out in A-Day, and in the spring:
•Running back Cameron Artis-Payne at A-Day: "The highlights I felt like were Cameron Artis-Payne," Malzahn said. "Obviously, he had some good, hard-nosed runs."
•The most-talked-about safety Justin Garrett "was flying around like he has all spring, picked up the fumble but he made a couple other plays that were very impressive," Malzahn said.
•Defensive end Dee Ford rushing the passer: "If it had been a live situation, our quarterback would have been hit quite a few times, taken some pretty good licks," Malzahn said.
"Dee got a lot better as the spring progressed," Johnson said. "He is our best and, at this point, our only pass rusher that is giving us that kind of pass rush."
•Tight end/H-back Brandon Fulse: "That’s what we recruited Brandon Fulse for: for that position standing up, doing a lot of dirty work, a very physical blocker."
•Linebacker Kris Frost "has got an edge" at Mike linebacker, Johnson said.
•Cornerbacks have been the top defensive group: "I think they’ve improved, but they started so well," Johnson said. "Really from Day 1, I thought tackling and cover skills and those sorts of things were pretty good. I’m sure they improved."
•Receivers: "I thought they got much better, night and day. They're not there yet. We've got a long way to go," Lashlee said. "Sammie Coates made some plays the other day and took some shots. If he'll just keep coming, he's got a chance."
Also, Ricardo Louis and Jaylon Denson.
"You see that Ricardo, the more reps he gets and the more used to our tempo and the condition of that, I think the better he will be. Getting him the ball and getting him touches is a thing that you'd like to do.
"Jaylon was solid. Fans didn't see it, but he made probably the catch of the spring for a touchdown in the second scrimmage."
•Defensive tackles "have had real solid springs," Johnson said. "They don't have the flashy stats I can throw out to back that up.
•Safety Jermaine Whitehead "had a great spring. Very good spring," Johnson said. "No question the brightest spot at safety for us.
"I thought Whitehead and those four corners, those are the guys that kept, every day, there was something on film that you're like, man, that's good stuff right there."
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