Getting DeFensive

By J.M. Comer

The War Eagle Reader offers a fall practice roundup of news reports, focusing on Auburn’s defense.

Auburn Undercover talks with DC Paul Rhoads

Look for more from The War Eagle Reader on Paul Rhoads by the end of this week, focusing on his Pitt Panther defenses.

Paul Rhoads talks about the freshmen

Speaking on Saturday (Aug. 2), Auburn defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads said his freshmen are well aware how important the next few weeks of practice will be. “I think they’re extremely aware, and they’ve approached it that way,” Rhoads said. “I think they got shocked a little bit the first day. What they’ve done in the summer is a little bit different than practicing with these varsity football players on the practice field.” (The Huntsville Times, Aug. 5)

On Deron Furr’s absence

Safety Zac Etheridge did shed some light on the Saturday fight, however, saying that he wanted to send a message to the freshmen about practicing with the proper level of effort.It was Etheridge who first squared off with Furr before several other defensive backs jumped onto the pile. Once coaches and trainers broke up the brawl, Furr was left sitting on hands and knees without his helmet and needed a great deal of assistance from a trainer to stagger to a nearby tent. He spent the rest of Saturday’s practice sitting underneath the tent but did participate in Auburn’s fan day that afternoon. “It was just setting an example to the freshmen,” said Etheridge, who added he has not spoken with Furr recently. “It wasn’t nothing like bumping heads. It was just showing them that we’re here to work and get to the championship.” Asked what specifically happened that led to the fight, Etheridge elaborated further. “It’s just that everyone was tired,” he said. “The heat was bothering everyone. He just didn’t push himself hard, but other than that, (it) got the other freshmen to learn and they picked it up today.” (The Ledger-Enquirer, Aug. 5)

*UPDATE by J. Henderson* – Furr is transferring. I hate to lose him, I hate to lose anyone, especially someone of Furr’s athleticism. But man, every time Furr has been brought up since March, all I’ve been able to think of is Coach Tony Franklin’s candid spring practice assessment of DeRon’s chances at playing quarterback, which I was blessed to hear up close:

DeRon Furr on the other hand, despite his obvious physical talent, is a long way off. Or as Franklin put it, “a long, long, long, long, long, long way off.” That’s six longs.

Aaron Savage injured, damnit

Cornerback Aaron Savage landed awkwardly attempting to break up a pass and let out several high-pitched cries. Trainers were at his side in seconds. Savage’s entire right leg was immobilized, and he was quickly driven off the field on a cart. … “We can’t afford to lose anybody, especially a guy with that experience,” Tuberville said. If Savage’s injury is serious, it would be an enormous blow to a secondary that appears to be the weakest link in Auburn’s defense. (The Huntsville Times, Aug. 5)

Junior Walt McFadden moved in for Savage during the second half of practice Monday. McFadden, whose brother Bryant plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was used primarily in the Tigers’ nickel and dime packages in 2007. Beyond McFadden, though, Auburn’s depth chart is sparse. Sophomore Ryan Williams played as a true freshman last season, but Tuberville recently said Williams is in the coach’s “dog house” for academic problems. Williams also missed approximately half of the team’s voluntary summer workouts. With his grades apparently no longer a problem, Williams has to focus on his conditioning, according to Tuberville. “He’s just not in great shape right now,” Tuberville said. “He hasn’t been here, so we’ve got to get him in better shape.” (The Montgomery Advertiser, Aug. 5, Opelika-Auburn News, Aug. 2)

Another Savage makes a big move

Freshman defensive end Jomarcus Savage provided the highlight of Auburn’s practice Monday, knocking tackle Lee Ziemba to the ground during a drill. Savage and Ziemba were matched one-on-one when Savage faked left and right. The moves confused Ziemba, who rocked back on his heels. Savage then rammed Ziemba in the chest and knocked him on his back, resulting in what Auburn coaches call a “cockroach block.” (The Montgomery Advertiser, Aug. 5)

Standoff in the trenches

There was a good standoff between Tyronne Green and Sen’Derrick Marks right when I got there. On the first go, Green stonewalled Marks and Sen’Derrick kind of deflected backwards and told Green he did a great job. Marks fought past him to the quarterback on the next one, setting up what Hugh Nall said would be the rubber match. On the third go-round, Marks tried to bull rush Green, who stood his ground enough for Marks to fall down before he made it into the backfield. Those guys were going hard. It was very entertaining to watch and I think the coaches were enjoying that one as well. (War Eagle Extra, Aug. 5)

Injury Watch

Defensive end Antonio Coleman continues to be limited by a sore hamstring. Defensive end Michael Goggans sat out with bruised ribs. (The Huntsville Times, Aug. 5)

Defensive tackle Tez Doolittle practiced Saturday, less than a year after rupturing his Achilles’ tendon. The former Opelika star participated in position drills with the other defensive linemen, but was held out of team drills. Tuberville said Doolittle is actually entirely recovered from the Achilles’ injury, but has strained his hamstring and could be slowed for a few days.

Defensive end Antonio Coleman sat out of team drills with what Tuberville called a hamstring injury. Coleman missed all of spring practice after spraining his neck while being blocked by offensive tackle Lee Ziemba.

Freshman defensive back T’Sharvan Bell (ankle) spent most of Saturday’s practice on stationary bikes. (Opelika-Auburn News, Aug. 2)

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