That has been the case in seven on seven drills or 11 on 11 matchups. However, that changed on Saturday as the team practiced at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time since the A-Day Game last spring. Overall, the defense outperformed the offense at the major scrimmage, something obvious to the players and coaches.
"We came out real slow," noted junior tailback Carnell Williams. "With this season coming up, with the schedule we have, it is tough. We can't get off track like that.
"We have been having a real great two-a-days, but we took a step back," Williams added. "Obviously, the defense cranked it up and we stepped back."
One of the players on offense who didn't take a step back was redshirt freshman wide receiver Courtney Taylor. At his last appearance at Jordan-Hare Stadium on A-Day, he admitted he was nervous playing in front of the crowd that day and had several dropped passes. With approximately 8,500 watching the team's scrimmage on Saturday, Taylor caught everything thrown his way. "I came out more focused," said Taylor, who was a quarterback at little Carrollton High School. "Last time, I came out probably a little overanxious."
Although he has moved up to first string status ahead of Devin Aromashodu and has had many good practices, Taylor said he was not satisfied with his play in the big scrimmage on Saturday. "I still made a few mistakes, but I feel like I am getting better each and every day and that is the main goal right now."
Taylor said the offense needs to regain the sharpness it had shown earlier in the week, something the defense displayed in the scrimmage. "I think they (defense) came out a little more focused and ready to go," said Taylor.
Taylor noted that after offensive coordinator Hugh Nall talked to the offense about the need to play with more urgency, things picked up on that side of the football in the second half. Quarterback Jason Campbell agreed and said, "We came out real slow. I don't know what it was, but in the second half we picked it up. We found our rhythm and started moving the ball.
"We got got in a rhythm and got fired up. We started playing with intensity. The defense came out playing with intensity from the beginning and we were kind of moving slow. Once we picked the tempo up, things begin to work themselves out."
Tiger Ticket Extra: In hindsight, Taylor noted that the offense should have been ready for a big effort by the defense at the Saturday scrimmage judging by their behavior on Friday. He said that some of the defensive players didn't even want to talk to the offensive players...Tailback Tre Smith said he feels comfortable in his punt return role. "I like it back there. It is fun. I returned them throughout my whole high school career, but usually they wouldn't punt it to me so I didn't get too many returns."...Campbell and Taylor hooked up on a short touchdown pass when redshirt freshman cornerback Montae Pitts lined up at the wrong position when the secondary changed coverages. Taylor waved his arms and yelled at Campbell to throw him the ball on what was called as a running play. Campbell did see him and called for a quick snap from Danny Lindsey to take advantage of the defensive miscue. "Courtney was out there waving his hands," Campbell said. "I told him, ‘Don't holler because somebody will see you and go running out there.' I just threw out there to try to get the easy touchdown."...On the subject of Taylor as a wide receiver, Campbell said he is not surprised that the redshirt freshman is developing into a major part of the offense. Campbell said it was obvious during Taylor's redshirt season that he had that type of potential plus a strong work ethic.