Defense Rules The Day In Wednesday Scrimmage

The first-team defense allowed just one touchdown in Wednesday's final scrimmage before the A-Day game.

Auburn, Ala.--Despite what appeared to be a solid day out of quarterbacks Jason Campbell and Josh Sullivan in Wednesday's scrimmage, not everyone that watched the performance came away happy.

Throwing the ball well, particularly to tight ends Anthony Mix and Steven Ross, Campbell finished the day 8-15 with 52 yards and one touchdown. Doing even better, Sullivan was 12-18 for 161 yards and three touchdowns along with one interception. Although the numbers weren't bad, new quarterback Coach Steve Ensminger was none too pleased with what he saw out of his pupils.

"I don't think any of them played good," Ensminger said. "I don't think he (Sullivan) played well. He made some big plays for us, he really did, but the timing of his throws and everything else, Tommy (Tuberville) talked about it yesterday, or Hugh (Nall) did about the timing of the throws getting better. We were sluggish, we were slow, I thought we made bad reads, our timing was bad. I thought we took a step backwards today."

Josh Sullivan runs from defensive tackle Wayne Dickens in Wednesday's scrimmage.

Running from football practice to get in his car and drive to Montgomery to join the baseball team in its game against Troy State, Sullivan said he thought the second-team offense did a good job of finishing drives against the second-team defense and turning them into points. Scoring on five drives with four going for touchdowns, the second-team offense got the best of its counterparts, but Sullivan wasn't satisfied with the way he played.

"We were ready for what they had," Sullivan said of the defense. "I think we were a little sloppy on our execution mentally, but we moved the ball downfield and had a lot of good drives and a couple of big plays. I think we did better as the number two group as a whole although we had some mental mistakes."

While the offense didn't have its finest day, the defense put on a show worthy of praise in Wednesday's 90-play scrimmage. Flying to the ball much more aggressively than they have at any time this spring, the defensive players held nothing back by blitzing and showing a variety of coverages to the offense. The result was just 78 yards rushing on 38 attempts with Tre Smith gaining 44 of those on just eight attempts. Carnell Williams finished with 20 yards on eight attempts, while Ronnie Brown was bottled up with minus four yards on seven carries. Brandon Jacobs rounded out the foursome with 25 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.

"We did okay today," defensive coordinator Gene Chizik said following the scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium. "We just kind of mixed in and out of some things. We've been playing a lot of base defense, which we need to. We need to be good at that. We're still not as good as we need to be, but today we mixed it around a little bit and gave ourselves a little better chance. They looked like they executed it okay. I think they played decent."

Tailback Carnell Williams is wrapped up by safety Donnay Young and a host of Tiger defenders.

The group that stood out defensively was the linebacker corps of Dontarrious Thomas, Karlos Dansby and Travis Williams. Playing behind an experienced front four that does a good job of keeping blockers off them, the trio finished with 18 tackles. Sophomore Travis Williams led the way with eight tackles and three for losses. Thomas said he was pleased with how the first team defense played Wednesday and he's especially proud of the effort they gave.

"We just came out with confidence," Thomas said. "Yesterday the offense did a good job of executing against us and they really put it on us. We didn't really start getting a grip on things until the end of practice. We came out and knew that it was going to be a good scrimmage for us to come out and establish ourselves. We just wanted to get better. That was the main focus."

Junior Rosegreen made his first appearance of the spring at cornerback in a live situation and came through the day with flying colors. Receivers caught just nine passes for 77 yards, led by Devin Aromashodu's five catches for 29 yards. Thomas said having Rosegreen on the field along with senior-to-be Roshard Gilyard is comforting and makes it easy for the team to go out and do their jobs.

"It builds more confidence," Thomas said. "You have two guys that have played. Junior has some experience at corner and we're confident that he's going to be a good corner for us and help us out. Roshard Gilyard has some experience and it's not that we're searching for personnel, we're just putting the right guys in the right situations to make our defense even better."

The kicking game continues to be a strong point as Phillip Yost drilled four field goals in five attempts with the lone miss coming from 54 yards. With makes from 52, 53, 42 and 43 yards, Yost continues to put a stamp on a solid spring and is clearly the man to beat for the job when the Tigers begin two-a-days in August.

There were a few injuries in Wednesday's scrimmage with defensive end Tony McClain suffering a severely ankle sprain. A sprained knee by Dexter Murphy and hip flexor strain by Silas Daniels were the only other injured Tigers, but both returned to action later in the scrimmage.

With one practice remaining before Saturday's A-Day game, the team will go through a walk-through of sorts Thursday afternoon on the practice fields behind the football complex. Saturday's game will begin at 1 p.m. with the first team against first team and second team going head-to-head with the second team. The game will have four 12-minute quarters and a 30-minute autograph session will follow the game.

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