Working the first team offense against the first team defense in goal line, regular situations and two-minute situations to test the mettle of both units, the coaching staff used Sunday's practice as a measuring stick at several positions. Perhaps no position has received more scrutiny than the quarterback spot, especially the last several weeks. With Daniel Cobb and Jason Campbell receiving the majority of the work under center on Sunday. Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said that both looked good but he was proud of how the whole team responded.
Tommy Tuberville watches in the background as Daniel Cobb practices on Sunday.
"I thought both of them went out today and worked hard, I think the whole team did," he said. "I think the whole team, like all of us, was embarrassed by two weeks ago. We're still playing for the West championship and playing a good team on the road and I think that the running backs, the defense, and the offense, I think all the kids came out after giving them a few days off. You expect them to come back and be a little draggy, but they really came back with a lot of enthusiasm and really worked hard."
Enthusiasm is probably an understatement for the attitude at Sunday's practice. With lots of big hits and full contact for much of the day, the focus was definitely evident after a less than impressive performance the last time out in uniform. Defensively, Junior Rosegreen and Roshard Gilyard both came up with big plays in the passing game while Mark Brown looks to be back to his old self following the off-week given the team during Thanksgiving.
On the injury front tailback Carnell Williams is out with a broken collarbone and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks before he can return to any form of exercise with his shoulder. Defensive tackle Marcus White missed Sunday's practice while he continues to struggle with a neck injury suffered the week of the Georgia game.
While Cobb and Campbell are fighting for the quarterback job once again, the running back situation is just as cloudy with Ronnie Brown, Casinious Moore and Chris Butler all working with the first unit on Sunday. While Mazzone said that Brown has the inside track to be the starter, you can look for all three to see action on Saturday in Baton Rouge. Up front Mark Pera has supplanted Monreko Crittenden for the moment as the starting right tackle and appears headed for the start in Saturday's game as well.
Casinious Moore (22) finds a seam in the defense in Sunday's scrimmage.
While all that is pressing, the quarterback situation is still the one that has the coaching staff concerned. While both looked good at times on Sunday, they also both made critical mistakes that would be costly in game situations. No matter who comes out on top, Campbell said that this team will be ready for LSU when they travel to Red Stick.
"In the spring everyone is fighting for a starting job, but now it's just a matter of going out there because of what is at stake," Campbell noted Sunday night. "It's a championship game and you can't ask for any better opportunity than to have a chance to play for the championship. There are a lot of teams that wish they were in our situation so we're trying to prepare ourselves for what's ahead. LSU has a great team and we know they're going to be ready to play also so we want to be ready for what they throw at us."
The Tigers will take their normal Monday off before returning to practice Tuesday afternoon. The team will practice Wednesday and Thursday before leaving for LSU Friday afternoon. Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. and can be seen nationally on ESPN.
Tiger Ticket Extra: Deandre Green may have had his best day of practice this year. He made several impressive catches, including a one-handed, laying on his back catch in the end zone...Defensive tackle Dante Booker had an impressive practice and will have a chance for more playing time with Marcus White's health in question...Brandon Johnson had several huge blocks on goal line offensive situations. He spent most of the practice session at fullback instead of linebacker. He had a five-yard TD run...After practice Sunday evening, Mazzone was asked if understood more clearly how important the Auburn-Alabama rivalry is to Tiger fans. "Yeah," was his unsmiling, one word answer. Asked to go into more detail, Mazzone replied, "Yes."