Deep Ball A Part Of New Tiger Offense

Offensive coordinator Al Borges and quarterback Jason Campbell comment on Auburn's passing game and how the team is adjusting to a new scheme.

Auburn, Ala.--A passing output of 135 yards might not be much to get excited about in a normal game, but in a 60-play scrimmage with just 13 passes thrown, it's enough to get Coach Al Borges and the Auburn offense encouraged about where the offense is headed after Thursday's practice on the Plains.

Featuring two pass plays of more than 50 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, the passing game was solid on a day when the defense showed some new wrinkles in the blitz package. Borges said that Thursday's deep passing exhibition is something Auburn fans will see more of this season as the players become more comfortable in the offense.

"We're trying to get the ball down the field a little bit more," Borges said. "This is a cool offense in that I think it's a little underrated in its ability to take the ball down the field. People fail to remember sometimes how you can facilitate upfield throws. We have those dimensions and as long as we have those dimensions we can keep the defense loose."

While the long ball is a definite threat in the West Coast Offense, the bread and butter remains in the short passing game to the backs and over the middle to the wide receivers. Quarterback Jason Campbell said the new "bunch" formation the Tigers have been working on, which features the receivers in a stacked formation just outside of the tight end, is going to be a fun one when everything gets in place next season.

"Once we get into the full swing and start playing against our schedule I think it's going to be hard for people to stop those routes," Campbell said. "We don't just throw the ball out of the bunch routes, we have some running plays out of it and we have some boots of out that.

"We have a lot of different plays out of the same formation. People can't come to the line and say ‘they'll probably run these two plays'. Now they have to just play defense and can't key on stopping this or stopping that."

Wide receiver Silas Daniels catches a pass from Jason Campbell while David Irons plays defense.

Auburn's new offense is designed to give the wide receivers a chance to make big plays after the catch. For the Tigers that means players like Ben Obomanu, Devin Aromashodu, Silas Daniels and Anthony Mix are going to have to take a step forward in 2004. Borges said several players are already moving ahead, but there is still a long way to go for the receivers as a whole.

"We've got some nice competition going there," Borges said. "Courtney Taylor is really starting to come and Devin is starting to come. We're using Silas a little bit more in the slot, which I think is a good position for him not just having the ability to play flanker, but to go into the slot and work on safeties.

"I've been pretty happy with them, but I still feel like we need to catch the ball better. We're dropping some balls we shouldn't drop. One of the key points in this offense is the ability to make the routine plays every time. When they hit a high-hopper to the second baseman you have to turn a double play right? You can't bobble it. When the routine play is there you have to make it. You have to make the throw and you have to make the catch. That's what moves the chains."

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