Defense Holds Edge At Major Scrimmage

More than 8,000 Auburn fans came to Jordan-Hare Stadium to check out the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Hugh Nall let his players know during Saturday's scrimmage he wasn't happy with their performance and the offensive coordinator repeated that theme after the two-hour workout at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

With an estimated 8,500 fans watching the practice, which included an appearance by the Auburn University Band, the defense got off to a strong start and controlled the tempo for much of the day. The offense snapped out of its early funk after getting chewed out by Nall and began to move the ball more consistently in the second half of the scrimmage, but the overall theme for the day was that the defense held the upper hand.

Junior tailback Ronnie Brown, who had the most impressive day of anybody on offense with 10 carries for 100 yards, said that Nall got his point across verbally and by making the entire first team offense do grass drills on the sideline while the second team offense was on the field. "We got a little abuse," Brown said with a smile. "I think everybody kind of got the picture."

Brown said that he isn't concerned about the offense, which in general has held the upper hand throughout preseason in the 11 on 11 work vs. the defense. "I think by the time the 30th comes around we will get everything right."

Brown had the only real big offensive play of the day, a 67-yard run for a score. He was untouched on the run. "It was one of our bread and butter plays, the outside zone," he noted. "A receiver did a good job of cutting the defensive back off. After that it was just open field."

Nall made it clear he wanted to see more big plays and more yardage gained by other means, too. "The main thing I saw is that we were SLUGGISH and you can put that in all capital letters," Nall said. "I was disappointed in the way we came out. It was by far our worst effort, I thought, this fall. But at the same time I thought we rallied and got the ball on the 50, took it down and got some points and the next time we scored. I was just disappointed about how sharp we weren't. I didn't think we blocked well, I didn't thing we ran well, I didn't think we threw well and I didn't think we caught the ball well early and I told them.

"I told them there are 365 days in a year and to find another day to have a bad day. We aren't going to have a bad day on a football day so I was disappointed, but I did like the way we did rally a little bit toward the end. We did start running the ball a little bit better and we started making some things happen."

Nall said the defense deserves some credit. "They came after us and whipped our tail in the first half," the offensive coordinator said.

Karlos Dansby tackles Carnell Williams at Saturday's scrimmage.

Defensively, it was a good scrimmage for the secondary, which kept a blanket on the receivers much of the day. Jason Campbell hit 9-14 for 63 yards, but couldn't find receivers open downfield against the secondary most of the time. Campbell didn't throw any interceptions and tossed touchdown passes to Courtney Taylor and Brandon Johnson. Taylor, with four catches for 37 yards, was the leading receiver.

Josh Sullivan was 5-14 passing for 55 yards with no TDs or no interceptions as the No. 2 QB. The other quarterbacks played briefly. Brandon Cox threw one pass and completed it for 16 yards. Kelcy Luke threw one pass for for three yards and Wesley Hill and Courtney Denson each threw one incompletion.

True freshman Carl Stewart, a likely redshirt as the fifth team tailback, got more carries than anybody and netted 35 yards on 13 carries. Tre Smith carried the ball eight times for 28 yards. Brandon Jacobs had nine carries for 24 yards with a nice plunge up the middle from four yards out for a TD vs. the No. 1 defense.

Campbell carried the ball three times for 16 yards. Brandon Johnson had two runs for six yards. Cox was sacked for a six-yard loss, Obomanu lost nine yards on one run and Sullivan was sacked twice for 15 yards in losses.

Walk-on wideout Jamoga Ramsey, a 5-10, 159 redshirt freshman from Delray Beach, Fla., had two catches for 34 yards, Jeris McIntyre had one for 24, Ben Obomanu had three for 13 yards, Steven Ross and Brandon Johnson had one catch for 12 yards, Anthony Mix two for eight yards, Brown had one catch for one yard and Smith one catch for a four-yard loss.

Defensively, Karlos Dansby was his usual impressive self with 10 total tackles, including six solos and two for 10 yards in losses. Defensive lineman T.J. Jackson had seven tackles with two solos and two for three yards in losses.

The safeties had a good day. Starter Donnay Young had four solo stops and two assists at free safety. Reserve Will Herring had two solos, four assists and several big-time hits. Roshard Gilyard, the No. 1 strong safety, had one solo and one assist. Karibi Dede had one solo and one assist and Andrew Letts had one stop and played solidly in pass coverage. Defensive coordinator and safety coach Gene Chizik said without having time to study video of the scrimmage he liked what he saw from the secondary and the defense as a whole.

Other tacklers for the Tigers include: Antarrious Williams, 2-3; Tim Duckworth, 2-3; Marquies Gunn, 1-5; Mayo Sowell, 1-3 Travis Williams, 2-1; Kevin Sears 2-1; Lame Ages 0-1; Gerald Williams 0-1; Peter Martin 1-0; Quentin Groves 0-2; walk-on linebacker Chris Chappell 1-2; walk-on linebacker Chad Strachan 2-2; Stanley McClover 0-2; Ben Grubbs 1-0; Bret Eddins 0-1; Wayne Dickens, 1-2; Doug Langenfeld 1-0.

The defense came out very strong, forcing a three and out from the first offense on the opening two possessions from the 20-yard line. The second offense didn't have any better success on its first try, going three and out. On the second possession, Josh Sullivan hit Jeris McIntyre for 24 yards and the offense managed one more first down before stalling.

The first offense then had two more cracks and couldn't get a first down. The second offense then took the field for two possessions and managed just one first down.

Ronnie Brown drags linebacker Antarrious Williams.

Starting at the 50, the first offense finally got moving with Campbell hitting Courtney Taylor over the middle between Carlos Rogers and Karlos Dansby for 16 yards. The drive stalled at the eight and Philip Yost kicked a 25-yard field goal.

Kelcy Luke then got the call to play QB as a lot of reserves hit the field for two series before the teams took a break.

After being shut down on three plays, the first offense scored in lightning-like fashion. Taylor caught a 12-yard pass from Campbell on the first play of a drive and then Ronnie Brown raced 68 yards for a touchdown at right end. That helped jump-start the offense.

With the offense getting to start possessions at the defensive team's 25-yard line, a second touchdown soon followed from seven yards out when Montae Pitts missed an assignment and Courtney Taylor was uncovered. Campbell saw that and changed a running call into a TD pass.

On the next possession from the 25, the first offense had to settle for a 37-yard field goal by freshman John Vaughn. Big tailback Brandon Jacobs completed a 25-yard drive for the second offense with a four-yard run up the middle after the first defense had been put on the field for that play.

The offense then got to start from the 12-yard line and Campbell hit fullback Brandon Johnson on a perfectly throw pass deep in the end zone for a score despite tight coverage from linebacker Mayo Sowell. Brown added a five-yard run for the first offense and Vaughn kicked a 24-yard field goal to end the main part of the scrimmage.

Yost and Vaughn then had a kicking competition. Yost started off by making a 32-yarder, but missed from 36, 44, 46 and 49 yards while making a 40-yarder. Vaughn opened with a 32-yarder and then made kicks of 36, 40, 44 and 46 before coming up short from 49 yards out.

"We are making some progress in some areas," said head coach Tommy Tuberville, who gave the scrimmage mixed reviews. "The execution I was a little concerned about was with our quarterbacks. We didn't look as sharp as I thought we should, but again that gives a point to start with and try to get better. I thought we ran the ball well. Defensively, it looked like we had the upper hand and we should have. We are not ready to play a game yet. We have a lot of things to work out from the quarterback snap all the way through the kicking game."

Practice Notes: Offensive guard Jarrod Britt, who had been out of action with a shoulder problem, returned to action...Offensive guard/tackle Rich Trucks suffered a knee injury, which Tommy Tuberville said could be a serious setback on the initial report...Another offensive lineman, Taylor Bourgeois, will definitely miss the opener vs. Southern Cal as he does rehab on his shoulder that required surgery last season.


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