Offensive Coordinator Sees Progress

Comments from Al Borges are featured after his offense made strides in Auburn's second major scrimmage of the spring.

Auburn, Ala.--Al Borges said one of the most encouraging signs he saw in Auburn's second major scrimmage of the spring was the domination of the goal line portion of the affair.

Both the first and second offenses punched the ball into the end zone with regularity to close the three-hour scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.

"I thought we did a nice job," the new offensive coordinator said of the goal line drills. "We got after them pretty good. The nice thing about that one is that both sides are pretty tired. That was a long scrimmage. If you can compete when you are tired, you are going to be a winner now. We competed when we were a little tired so I was very happy about that."

That session ended the day for the offense and the players on that side of the ball left Jordan-Hare Stadium with plenty to feel good about after making significant progress from the scrimmage a week earlier in which the defense held the upper hand. However, a strong running game in the second scrimmage helped the offense take the whip hand and led to the defensive players staying after practice to do wind sprints and other conditioning drills while the offensive players got a head start on taking the rest of the weekend off from football.

"Barring any disasters, we are going to be able to rush the football here pretty well," Borges said. "We have got the kids here who have proven they can do it. As you go through this schedule, people are going to pack the paint on us pretty good. They are going to make the quarterback beat them. It is nice to know we are capable of putting the ball in his hands and making something happen."

Redshirt freshman tailback Carl Stewart breaks a tackle and heads up field for more yardage.

"We got pretty good push," Borges said of the offensive front. "We did a pretty good job. We are developing a couple of different run schemes. Just now, I think, players are starting to get a better feel for it. The first couple of weeks we were a little rough around the edges. We are getting a little better feel for some of the schemes plus the backs are starting to feel the reads better."

Head coach Tommy Tuberville said he saw some encouraging signs with the offense's improvement in recent practices, including the major scrimmage a week before the A-Day game which is scheduled for this coming Saturday. Borges said he sees the improvement, too, but that the offense has lots of work to do.

"I think we are progressing at the rate we probably should be progressing," Borges noted. "We still have too many errors--too many errors that in crucial games are going to kill us. We made some mistakes inside the 20 that are going to prevent us from scoring or are going to force us into field goals that can eventually get you beat."

With nearly two decades as an offensive coordinator at the college level, Borges said each situation is different concerning how long it takes to teach his West Coast Offense. He notes that it depends on the experience of the offensive players he is teaching. "When I went to Oregon, they were coming off a Rose Bowl year, although the quarterback had not started much most of the team had played so it came around fairly fast," Borges said. "Like here, I didn't change a lot of the terminology. Other places, where the offense was completely revamped, it took a little bit longer. So there is no hard and fast answer to that question. It is all different based on where you are."

The second major scrimmage started with an impressive drive as the first team offense moved the football 70 yards for a score vs. the first team defense. Quarterback Jason Campbell got the drive started by hitting wide receiver Courtney Taylor on a 13-yard pass play on third down and nine after the defense had stuffed two running plays to Carnell Williams. Five plays later Campbell found Taylor open on a deep sideline route for 42 yards and a touchdown as the wideout beat cornerback Montae Pitts.

The goal line session started impressively, too, for the offense. With first and goal to go from the seven, an illegal procedure penalty backed up the first offense to the 12-yard line. However, on the next play Tre Smith bolted through a nice hole for a score.

On the next play, on first and goal from the seven, Carl Stewart put the ball in the end zone on a powerful run up the middle.

Tailback Kenny Irons then got into the act, scoring from seven yards out vs. the number one defense.

On the defense's last chance to make a stop, third string quarterback Kelcy Luke converted a fourth and goal from the five by racing around right end for the score.

"I think we got better," Borges said. "The goal was to come off the field knowing that we have taken a step whether we scored no touchdowns or 10 touchdowns--I don't care. I wanted to feel better and all of us as coaches wanted to feel better and I think we did."

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