When two-a-days started last August, Jason Campbell was playing catch up in his quest to be the man at quarterback. He finally caught senior Daniel Cobb and won the job on the field after a strong relief performance at Florida, but during the heat of August last summer Campbell was not the man at QB. This year, there is no doubt that Campbell is the number one quarterback and the redshirt junior is enjoying his role.
"I feel very comfortable out there," Campbell said." I don't feel any pressure. I am just going out there and playing ball and having fun."
Campell's day of fun included a lot of 11 on 11 work in full pads. "I have a better feel for the offense with this being my second year in the system. I am working on being consistent with all parts of my game. That is what I am focusing on during preseason."
Campbell said he thought the first practice of two-a-days in the morning was crisper than the second. "The guys came out focused this morning on both sides of the ball," he noted. "In the evening, on both sides of the ball, we lost a little of that focus. We have to learn how to persevere through the heat and get after each other and get better each day."
Looking at the offense, Campbell said the theme is to make sure that his group is just as dangerous passing the ball as it is running with its gifted group of tailbacks. "We are working on being balanced," he told Inside the Auburn Tigers/ "Guys are really working hard on fundamentals at each position. We are doing a lot of individual work."
A significant part of that individual work has been on improving the team's ability to hit the long pass play. QB coach Steve Ensminger believes in the bomb. "That is something we have been working on quite a bit," Campbell said. "It is something that we are getting better at doing. If we have an opportunity to make plays, we need to make sure we take advantage of it."
Campbell had a good day throwing the ball, showing good touch on short passes and long balls, and he drilled several balls into heavy traffic when necessary. Although the defensive players were not allowed to tackle Campbell or any of the offensive players, there was plenty of contact on Monday. Coach Tommy Tuberville told his team that will continue throughout the week.
Campbell said that he and the other quarterbacks will have to be on their toes as they square off with what has the look of a quick and physical defense. Several times, both he and backup Josh Sullivan had to dodge hard-charging defensive ends and tackles while looking for an open receiver. "We have a hungry bunch," Campbell said. "They have worked hard all summer. They have good leaders on the D-line so we are looking for a lot out of them." One of those defensive lineman, noseguard Tommy "T.J." Jackson, excited the defense when he was in the right place and the right time to pick off a short Campbell pass. Jackson tried to break away for a score, but was caught by offensive players while his teammates cheered him on.
What a difference a year has made for Campbell, backup, Josh Sullivan, who looks like he is settling into the number two QB role. However, he said that he isn't taking anything for granted. "I am working on getting better at everything I do," he said Monday night. "I need to get better with my progressions, my reads, my footwork--everything that goes into playing quarterback."
Josh Sullivan is a redshirt freshman from Little Rock, Arkansas.
"I am throwing it good and my arm feels good," Sullivan added. "I am just working on my progressions. That is the biggest key along with working on the timing with the receivers.
Sullivan, who was a specially invited walk-on last fall, admits that he has a lot better idea of what is going on during two-a-days this season. "I know a lot more than I did a year ago. I know a lot more than I did this past spring. We (the quarterbacks) have been working hard all summer and the past couple of days we have had a lot of meetings and have been getting in there and studying it hard."
After a morning session at the football complex in shorts, the Tigers drilled for two hours at the intramural fields in full pads on Monday evening. The practice started out hot with temperatures in the low 90s, but a cool breeze made it easier on the players later in the practice.
"We are just trying to get these guys used to their pads," head coach Tommy Tuberville said of the workout. "We did a little more team today, but we are still rugged around the edges." Tuberville said he plans to add 20 to 30 minutes to the 4:30 p.m. Tuesday practice to spend more time on team drills.
The Tigers worked on the kicking game in both the morning and evening sessions. "The punting game looked good and the kicking game looked good," Tuberville said. "We are going to be fine there. That is one area I don't think we will have to worry about."
In other practice news:
*Dontarrious Thomas was held out of practice again on Monday and probably won't play all week, Tuberville said. If it was a game week, DT would be on the field working out with a slightly pulled hamstring. Thomas ran on Monday.
*Another linebacker, Kevis Burnam, is expected to be back on the field in three or four days, Tuberville noted. Burnam twisted his knee at practice last week. Position coach Joe Whitt said, "We have some work to do, but I think we are going to be fine at linebacker."
*Linebacker Antarrious Williams, wearing a heavy wrapping over his hand, returned to practice on Monday after suffering a cracked bone in his hand last week.
*Karlos Dansby spent some time at middle linebacker on Monday. He did the same thing in spring drills.
*Cooper Wallace cracked a bone and cut his hand in the morning practice. The first team tight end was held out of the contact session in the evening after having six stitches put in his hand. He is expected to return to practice soon.
*Another tight end, Anthony Mix, dressed out and ran, but did not have any contact. He took a blow to the head over the weekend when he hit a blocking sled.
*Redshirt freshman Courtney Taylor, who has been impressive in every practice, got to work with the first team on Monday at wide receiver, ahead of Devin Aromashodu. Both Aromashodu and fellow sophomore Ben Obomanu have dropped catchable passes the past two practices while Taylor has caught almost everything thrown his way.
*Wide receiver Silas Daniels is expected to be out of action for approximately a week after pulling a hamstring in a passing drill on Monday. He went down while trying to outrun a deep, sideline pass.
*Backup offensive tackle/guard Taylor Bourgeois was held out of practice for a second straight day. Bourgeois has a sore shoulder, the same one he had surgery on last fall. "The doctor looked at him and said all he had to do is rehab," Tuberville said. "He is just sore with scar tissue. He has got to work through it. It is first time he has had contact since having major surgery. We will probably give him a few days off to work and get it stronger yet."
*Backup tailbacks Tre Smith and Brandon Jacobs continued their impressive work running the ball. Each had multiple strong runs in the 11 on 11 drills.
*Sophomore T.J. Jackson is significantly improved over his play in spring practice and looks like he will be a strong backup for senior Demarco McNeil at noseguard.
*Senior defensive tackle Spencer Johnson stood out in the one-on-one contact drills vs. the offensive line.
*A pair of freshmen linemen showed their ability on Monday, although both need to improve their consistency. Both offensive tackle King Dunlap and defensive end Stanley McClover had impressive plays. Neither McClover nor Auburn have heard from the NCAA Clearinghouse on his eligibility to play this season.
*Freshman John Vaughn made 6-7 field goals at the end of practice, including a 42-yarder on his last kick that got the team out of running windsprints. Philip Yost made three of six kicks, but was kicking the ball better than a day earlier when most of his kicks were low line drives.