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March 30, 2012

Loeffler expecting effort, toughness in scrimmage

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Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler is looking for two things Saturday morning.

"Effort and toughness," the first-year Auburn coach said.

After the first week of donning full pads in practice, the Tigers will suit up for their first scrimmage of spring practice tomorrow.

Since, as of Friday, the offense is only five practice days into executing a new offense and utilizing new terminology, Loeffler is pleased with how the players are handling the changes.

"We've made progress every single day," Loeffler said. "Making some mistakes, doing some good things. It's typical spring football. We've got the young guys out there and they're doing a great job with effort. We're happy with where we're at. Obviously as a coach you're always striving to be perfect, but Day Five, we're happy with where we're at."

Despite the undoubted strains that come with installing a new offense, players said they are enjoying what Loeffler brings to the table.

"I love it," said senior receiver Travante Stallworth. "There's so much different stuff. There's not just shotgun -- there's pro, shotgun, pistol. We do a whole bunch of different stuff. Coach Loeffler has a great thing going right now."

Loeffler said the first scrimmage will feature executing the basics of his offense.

"Football is blocking and tackling," Loeffler said. "At the end of the day you can do some really cool schemes schematically.

"We're going to work base fundamentals, go out there and play with effort, try to stay together, communicate and try to execute. (Offense is going to) try to block, and they're going to try to tackle. If we get those things down, play together and stay together as a team, good things will happen for that group."

For some, tomorrow will be the first time playing inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.

One of those players is quarterback Zeke Pike.

Pike opted to graduate from high school a semester early and enroll at Auburn this past January so he could go through spring practice.

Although he technically could still be a senior at Dixie Heights (Edgewood, Ky.), Loeffler said the young quarterback is adjusting well to the burdens that come with being a college athlete.

"We demand that these guys do great academically, we demand that they're on time and go to class, we demand that they do a great job with football and with Coach Yox," Loeffler said. "'The transition's been good for him. He's been a freshman, he's learned how things are done around here at Auburn and he's handled himself quite well for such a young guy."

Even though Pike is competing with junior Clint Moseley and sophomore Kiehl Frazier, two players with game experience, Loeffler won't rule out the possibility of giving a true freshman playing time.

"If you look at the history of all the major conferences, there aren't too many guys that get that opportunity," Loeffler said. "I'll never say never. I said 'never' when I was in Ann Arbor in 2004, that it would never happen, and it did (Chad Henne at Michigan).

"The way that I look at those guys is that they all develop at different paces. Some guys pick it up in six months, other guys pick it up in two years, some guys pick it up in their fourth year. Every guy is different."

As for Moseley and Frazier, Loeffler is pleased with their adjustment to a new offense and his coaching style.

"They've had great attitudes," Loeffler said. "They're working their tails off. They're trying to do everything in their power to help Auburn win. And at the end of the day, that's our job. Our job is one thing: it's not how many touchdown passes, it's not how many of this, how many of that, it's to do our job and help Auburn win. They've got the mentality that they're going to do everything in their power to help Auburn football."

Loeffler confirmed that, despite a reported shoulder tweak earlier in the week, Moseley is throwing with the rest of the quarterbacks.

From a player's perspective, tomorrow's scrimmage is an opportunity to showcase his talent for the new offensive coordinator, especially since players positions aren't set in stone.

"We're moving everybody around a lot," Stallworth said. "They're moving us around to get us different matchups with different people. Whoever has the hot hand that day will get the ball."

The demand for effort and toughness in the scrimmage isn't lost on players, and they are determined to deliver in the morning.

"They tell us if you make a mistake, just go 100 miles per hour doing it," Stallworth said. "We're just going to go out there run fast and play fast and do whatever we've got to do."



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