Tuberville Has Praise For Improving Quarterback

The Tigers put on the pads for a lot of contact work at their next to last football practice before taking a break for spring holidays.

Auburn, Ala.--Following a two-day break from practice, the football Tigers put on full pads for a physical two-and-half hour workout on Wednesday that included impressive passing by Jason Campbell and a continuation of the spring theme that the offense is ahead of the defense.

Campbell found receivers such as sophomores Benjamin Obomanu and Devin Aromashodu on deep patterns and generally had good time to let those patterns develop with the number one offensive line providing protection. He also took advantage of talented tight ends Cooper Wallace and Anthony Mix and threw the ball to the sophomores on short, middle and longer routes.

Jason Campbell

Campbell, a 6-5, 226-pound junior, has seldom thrown the ball any better than he did on Wednesday. On a day when No. 2 quarterback Josh Sullivan struggled with his consistency as a passer, Campbell was generally hitting his receivers on the numbers.

"Jason was throwing the ball real hard today," Tuberville notes. "The thing that Bobby Petrino started last year and (Steve) Ensminger has continued is getting his wrist more into the ball. He was more of a shoulder and body passer until this year. He is starting to get more zip on the ball--especially the out routes don't have much arc on them.

"Jason is getting better," Tuberville adds. "I don't worry about him throwing the ball. The big thing is for him to keep getting better mentally reading defenses. I think that is where Steve is going to really help him. He teaches more of reading coverages than anybody we have had--even Bobby. With Bobby, we read coverages, but he didn't have a chance to go to the next level with Jason because he was only here for one year.

"Jason gets better and better every day," Tuberville says. "He is starting to be able to ask more questions and answer more questions and even help Josh and the other quarterbacks. He has been there and seen that more than once now."

The offense closed the practice by dominating a goal line drill. The first offense got the ball on the 10-yard line vs. the first defense and quickly put it in the end zone. On first and 10, Campbell drew the defense offsides on his snap count. Then, on first and five, tailback Ronnie Brown battled into the end zone, just breaking the plane on a run at right tackle.

Ronnie Brown

Next the second offense got the ball at the 10 and scored on two plays. Tailback Tre Smith ran up the middle for four yards on first down and then scored at right guard on a six-yard burst, showing the cutting ability that has made his play a highlight of the spring.

"The offense won out," Tuberville says. "They keep bringing it to us on the offensive side of the ball in short yardage. Defensively, we haven't stood up to the challenge yet."

Auburn wrapped up the session with live field goal kicking. Philip Yost made four of the five five he got off. He made field goals of 25, 32, 40 and 40 yards and missed from 37 yards. One kick was blocked by cornerback Carlos Rogers, who found a soft spot in the middle of the line.

Carlos Rogers

"He is a tall defensive back," Tuberville says of Rogers. "He has got a good wing span and great anticipation on the ball. Blocking punts and field goals requires great anticipation and he does a good job of that. We are thinking about putting him on the punt block team next year, but that is kind of tough knowing that corner is one area where we are not real deep.

"You normally block more field goals from up the middle than on the side," Tuberville says. "We are trying some new guys on field goal protection and obviously we haven't perfected that yet. Our snapping has been off some because Jeremy Wells has not been here much. He has had class."

Commenting on the remainder of spring, Tuberville says, "We are still going to work on a lot of fundamentals, but we are going to start stressing a lot of teamwork. The thing that showed up in the scrimmages is that we are doing too many little things wrong. The only way we can correct some of those things is going 11-on-11 so today we did about an hour of team, along with about an hour of individual.

"Offensively, we looked a lot better against the blitz today and that is one thing we have been working really hard on. We have got a very good blitzing defense with a lot of speed and quickness, but Jason is picking it up, our offensive line is getting better at protecting and we are doing a pretty good job against it."

Tuberville said the Wednesday practice was productive. Overall, it was a good practice with a lot of spirit. The guys are really playing and practicing hard."

Rich Trucks

Reserve offensive lineman Rich Trucks suffered a hernia and will have surgery next week. The walk-on has worked at both guard and tackle this spring, but is out for the rest of spring. Offensive tackle Ryan Broome was held out of practice again with a back problem. He could return to action after the spring break. Linebacker Derrick Graves practiced, but was less than full speed with a groin pull.

The Tigers are scheduled to practice on Thursday and then be off until a week from Tuesday when they will have an 80-play scrimmage to start their final week of spring training that will conclude with the annual A-Day Game on April 5th at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Tiger Ticket Extra: Auburn players won't be able to skip out of town early for spring break. Strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall has scheduled Friday workouts and Auburn coaches told players to show up for their Friday classes and strongly suggested that players take home their books over the break to study if that is needed...Auburn was chased into the indoor practice field for 20 minutes by a thunderstorm with lightning as the Tigers practiced with a tornado watch in the Auburn area...A pair of Auburn signees made the drive down highway 280 to watch practice. Defensive back Eric Brock and defensive end Marquies Gunn are seniors at Benjamin Russell High in Alexander City.

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