Offense Outperforms Defense In Saturday Scrimmage

Comments from Tommy Tuberville, Al Borges and Gene Chizik are featured as the Tigers held a marathon scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn, Ala.--Al Borges was smiling. Gene Chizik was not. After what Auburn's two coordinators witnessed in a marathon scrimmage Saturday morning and afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium, those emotions were understandable.

The offense scored eight touchdowns in the scrimmage and had success moving the football on the ground and in the air. The offense opened the scrimmage with strong drives and closed it by dominating the goal line session.

Prior to the first scrimmage, new offensive coordinator Borges told his players that they needed to jump on the defense early and make a statement. However, that didn't happen and the defense held the upper hand in that scrimmage a week earlier.

He gave that same lecture on Friday, a day before the second major scrimmage, and this time the offensive players followed instructions with an eight-play, 70-yard march by the first offense vs. the first defense to open the session. Jason Campbell's perfect 42-yard pass to Courtney Taylor, who beat Montae Pitts, started the parade of touchdowns.

The second offense then drove 54-yards on nine plays before settling for a 33-yard field goal by Philip Yost. The defense did recover and play better for a stretch early in the second half of the practice at Jordan-Hare Stadium, but all things considered it was a solid day for the offense.

"In offensive football it is so important that you beat the defense to the punch," Borges said. "That is a Bill Walsh thing. You have to hit them before they hit you because, believe me, as defenses become more confident they become impossible to deal with so offensively you have got to put them in a back-pedal as soon as you can. The defense has been doing that to us. In the earlier scrimmages they have come out and taken it to us. Fortunately, we did a little better job this time."

Jason Campbell prepares to hand off the football to Carnell Williams.

The fact that the defensive backs and linebackers stayed after practice for an unscheduled wind sprint session and the defensive line walked across Donahue Drive to the football complex to push around the blocking sleds underscored the unhappiness of the defensive coaching staff.

"As coaches, we have a lot of work to do to figure out what in the world we have got to get better at," defensive coordinator Chizik said. "I can't even point out one specific thing.It is the whole defense.

"The tackling, I thought, was poor and we had been emphasizing tacking a lot," Chizk added. "We just didn't have a very good day tackling. There were a lot of things. Take your pick. It is a smorgasbord of things we need to get better at."

Head coach Tommy Tuberville seemed more perturbed with the field goal kicking than the defensive lapses. Yost missed field goals of 31 and 48 yards and had makes from 33, 35, 21 and 39. John Vaughn missed a 48-yarder and a 39-yarder and made attempts of 35, 27 and 31 yards.

"We have 10 practices finished," Tuberville said. "If we don't start kicking field goals better I am going to have an all-out tryout for kickers here on campus. I am tired of missing field goals. We have to start making them. There is no more time for excuses. We have guys who should be making them and we are not making them."

Borges said on Friday before the scrimmage he wanted to see progress from the running game and that is what happened. Kenny Irons, running with the second and third teams, led all ground gainers for a second straight week. He had 123 yards and three touchdowns, including a 62-yarder burst through the heart of the second team defense in which he showed both power and speed.

Tre Smith showed power and elusiveness with 96 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

Carl Stewart, the redshirt freshman, added a touchdown and 56 yards on 16 carries despite playing with a sore ankle. He was questionable whether or not he would even play.

Carnell Williams scored a TD on a short run up the middle and netted 30 yards on 14 carries. Ronnie Brown added 31 yards on eight runs.

Taylor had a big day as a receiver with three catches for 78 yards with two going for TDs. Devin Aromashodu had the most catches with four and he gained 58 yards.

Jason Campbell widened the gap between himself and the backup quarterbacks as he continues to pick up the West Coast Offense being installed by Borges. He hit 13-25 passes for 175 yards and two TDs. Campbell also made several nice runs.

Brandon Cox, who moved up to second string with a good scrimmage a week earlier, struggled. He hit 9-21 passes for 93 yards and had a pass picked off by middle linebacker Kevis Burnam, who had a clear field ahead of him to take it for a TD. Cox had a rough day with his ball-handing. He was involved in four fumbles, one of the few clouds for the offense on a bright, sunny spring-like day at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Kelcy Luke's best play was a seven-yard sprint into the end zone to close the scrimmage. However, he struggled with his passing. He completed just one of seven tosses and that was a four-yard loss on a screen pass.

"We looked better offensively today," head coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We executed and made a lot of plays, but still made a lot of mistakes. Overall, the effort was good. We are getting better on offense.

"On defense we took a big step backwards. We had some guys who didn't push through practice. We have got to get a lot better. We are not very good on defense right now. We are looking for about 25 guys to play defense for us next year and we don't even have half that much to compete in the SEC."

Tuberville had special praise for the running backs and the offensive front. "I was proud of the running backs of how they ran and how the offensive line blocked. That is probably the best I have seen since we have been here. We threw the ball a little bit better today at times and at times we didn't. We caught the ball a little bit better though and that was encouraging."

Scrimmage Notes: The Tigers are off from practice until Wednesday. The Tigers will work on their no-huddle and two-minute offensive packages prior to next Saturday's A-Day Game, which is set for 1 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium...Cornerback Montae Pitts had a rough day, giving up a pair of TD passes to Courtney Taylor and getting beat on other occasions. He was called for two pass interferences and got another penalty on a personal foul...Backup Lamel Ages had a much better day at corner and had a pair of sacks on blitzes, but he did have a pass interference penalty...Tez Doolittle was an emergency defensive end for the scrimmage with Doug Langenfeld out with an injury and Bret Eddins held out to rest a "burner" injury.

In addition to Taylor's 78 yards and Aromashodu's 58, eight other Tigers had yards on pass receptions. Ben Obomanu had two catches for 26 yards. Cole Bennett had two for 24. Silas Daniels had three catches for 21 yards and just missed a chance for a long touchdown bomb when he got behind the defense, but Cox's pass was overthrown. Tailback Stewart took a screen pass 20 yards. Cooper Wallace had two catches for 16. Anthony Mix caught two passes for 11 yards. Ronnie Brown had one catch for six yards, Kenny Irons had a catch for two yards and Tre Smith netted two yards on two catches. Walk-on running back George Winfrey netted 29 yards on three runs and walk-on Alex Howell netted three yards on three runs.

Running backs coach Eddie Gran, who also handles the kicking game, said he was "frustrated" with the field goal kicking on Saturday. "Seven for 11 with no rush--that's ridiculous," he said. "Absolutely ridiculous." When told that Tuberville had mentioned it might be time for open tryouts on campus to audition new kickers, Gran added, "That would be good. I'll run the ad."

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