AUBURN | Auburn’s defense was in control for much of Saturday’s second scrimmage of the spring.
The defense allowed just one touchdown, a run from inside the 10-yard line by C.J. Tolbert, and provided the biggest fireworks inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Linebacker Tre’ Williams tipped a Jarret Stidham pass near the line of scrimmage, the ball bounced off another player and back to Williams, who ran it in for a touchdown from about 20 yards out.
“I didn’t realize he had the ball until he was halfway down the field,” senior safety Nick Ruffin said, “but anytime we get an interception and a touchdown on defense I’m more than happy for it.”
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Linebacker Montavious Atkinson also caused a fumble, which was recovered by walk-on defensive back Devin Guice.
“We had a couple of takeaways. We had an interception, a fumble. We had a couple of tackles for loss. It was a good day for us,” Ruffin said.
The offense took a number of shots downfield but the only big completion was a 30-yard pass from Malik Willis to Marquis McClain.
“We did better than we did in the first (scrimmage),” said Ruffin of a secondary which included senior safety Tray Matthews, who had been nursing a hamstring injury.
Running back Kam Martin credited linebacker Darrell Williams with one of the biggest hits of the scrimmage, which came at his expense.
“He brings the thump when he comes,” Martin said. “He hit me, but I picked him up.”
Tolbert is in a tight battle with Martin and Malik Miller for the No. 3 running back position. Those three got the majority of reps in the scrimmage with Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson watching from the sidelines.
“(Tolbert) made a couple of good runs today,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “He's got a burst. He'll hit the line and he doesn't need much of a crease. Really what stands out to me is he's a tough guy. I like tough guys.”
Will Hastings was probably the leading receiver again, proving to be tough to cover inside the hashmarks.
“We don't really look at him as a walk-on anymore. He's in the mix competing for playing time. He's done some good things this spring,” Malzahn said.
McClain redshirted last fall but has gotten a lot of reps this spring with the increased emphasis on passing.
“He did real good today in the scrimmage and he’s been doing pretty good this spring,” senior wide receiver Jason Smith said. “When he calms down and gets comfortable, he’s going to be dangerous. He’s 220 probably running a 4.3. He’s the biggest receiver in our room and I can’t wait to see him grow up and develop and make plays for our team.”
All three quarterbacks wore orange non-contact jerseys during what is best described as a half-scrimmage with just 55 plays. The Tigers also went live on kickoff, kickoff return, field goal and extra point. The day ended with a two-minute drill.
“Overall, in all three phases, I really like where we’re at,” Malzahn said. “We’ve got one week, really, of spring left with our spring game coming up Saturday. Our guys are competing. They have a good attitude, a coach me, coach attitude.”
Malzahn said the team is relatively healthy heading into the final week of spring drills.
“There’s a couple guys that maybe just a little bit banged up today, but nothing major and knock on wood, that’s been a blessing,” he said.
The A-Day game will be Saturday, April 8 at 1 p.m. CT on the SEC Network.