August 17, 2008

Blanc's emergence a positive sign

Defensive tackle Mike Blanc only played a handful of snaps in Saturday's scrimmage, Auburn's second of two-a-days. For Blanc, that was a very good sign.

Defensive tackles coach Don Dunn wanted to get a long look at his reserves in the scrimmage. So he gave Blanc and defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks most of the day off.

"We wanted to get a look at those young kids, see where they were, get them more game-type experience," said Dunn.

That means his top players didn't play much Saturday. That group now includes Blanc - a satisfying sign for the sophomore from Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Most of all, it is a sign that Blanc is finally fully healthy, after two frustrating seasons dealing with injuries. He suffered a high-ankle sprain last August that was still bothering him when Auburn started spring practice in February.

The injury didn't complete derail his redshirt freshman season - Blanc played in 12 games - but it robbed him of much of his playmaking ability.

An ankle injury is devastating for a defensive lineman. Blanc had trouble pushing off his foot at the snap, struggled to quickly change direction and favored his healthy ankle whenever possible. That resulted in a disappointing 2007 in which he made six tackles.

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