Well, hey there. A lot of stuff has been happening around the Auburn athletic department lately. But, don’t worry, none of this stuff is that stuff.
This stuff is just football stuff, from this morning’s outing on the practice field. Believe it or not, the football world is still spinning, and Auburn actually has their first scrimmage of the spring coming up.
Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson spoke at the podium today. Both declined comment on the series of stories circulating about the program, with Johnson perhaps putting it best: “People above my pay grade are handling all that.”
But here’s what they did say.
Scrimmage!: Auburn didn’t tackle Friday morning, in anticipation for the first big scrimmage of the spring in Jordan-Hare on Saturday.
For Lashlee, it’s all about the mental aspect of the game, as install (or re-install) continues with the hurry-up no-huddle.
“I’d say the number one thing we’re looking for as coaches tomorrow is attention to detail and discipline,” Lashlee said. “Here we are, now six days in, and we’re still way too inconsistent. You see flashes, and that’s the good thing. But we’ve got to have attention to detail on all the little things as far as alignments and executions and all of those things, because on offense it takes all 11.
“You can have nine or 10 guys doing exactly what they’re supposed to do and one guy isn’t focused and doesn’t line up right and doesn’t know what his assignment is, or doesn’t execute properly, it messes the whole thing up.”
Not surprisingly, the same types of things are going on for Johnson on the opposite side of the ball, as he gets his 4-2-5 installed.
“I feel like in some aspects, we probably are pleasantly surprised on the way they’ve picked up new things they’ve not done before, or things we’re calling a little differently, etc,” Johnson said. “On the other hand, I think we’re a long, long way, especially when we’re doing to the fast-tempo operations, a long way from cleaning up enough missed assignments and other things that are hurting us.
“I know we’re physically in condition, but mentally right now we’re not staying focused through that.”
Friday’s marked the sixth practice of the spring for Auburn and Saturday’s scrimmage be the seventh. The Tigers have 14 practices set before A-Day on April 20.
Wide receiver turning heads: Lashlee mentioned Jaylon Denson as part of a group that he’s seen flashes from, and has stood out for his consistency. He praised Reese Dismukes and C.J. Uzomah as well, but Denson might come as a surprise, seeing as the rising junior has only caught one pass in his career.
“He’s been steady,” Lashlee said. “He’s been a guy that, right now, if you said who do I know that I can count on, I know I can count on him, six days in.”
Lashlee said that Denson has moved around, playing at slot and outside, and that in the end he’s going to be put Denson where he helps the team best.
“We’re moving him around a little bit,” Lashlee said. “Putting him in a few different spots. He’s smart enough, he can handle it, and he’s making plays. But he’s not only making plays with the ball, he’s doing what he’s supposed to do when he’s not getting the ball.”
If you’re doubting the ability of a guy that has yet to produce in his career stepping up as an upperclassman, Lashlee used the example of a receiver who — uhh — remained nameless.
“I think the first year I got here we had a guy that had two or three career catches and had 60 the next year,” Lashlee said.
Hmm, I wonder who could he be talking about?
At court: I missed the media’s actual look-in at practice this morning to go to the Lee County Justice Center, where Circuit Judge Chris Hughes ruled that Mike McNeil’s trial will go on as planned starting Monday.
McNeil had filed a request to withdraw his lawyer, Opelika attorney Ben Hand, from the case.
Hand said that he’ll continue to defend McNeil, despite the motion.
“I’m his attorney,” Hand said. “I’ll do everything to defend my client. As long as the judge says I’m on the case, I will do everything I can do provide the very best defense that I can for my client.”
McNeil declined comment upon exiting the courtroom.