Two-A-Days Have A Rough Beginning

Coach Tommy Tuberville and quarterback Jason Campbell talk about a unsatisfying first day of two-a-days.

Auburn, Ala.–-A college football coach for more than 20 years, Tommy Tuberville has seen plenty of two-a-days come and go and he had a pretty good idea of what to expect on Wednesday when the Auburn Tigers suited up twice for the first time this preseason.

Following a sluggish morning practice the Tigers were again sloppy in a long workout that lasted more two and a half hours and featured a short yardage scrimmage.

"It was typical," Tuberville said. "We've got some guys banged up, but the timing was way off on offense. Defensively, we just haven't learned how to practice full speed yet with all 22 first and second-teamers, but we're playing a lot of third team guys in the group. We have a lot of work to do. We dropped more balls today than I think we dropped the entire spring practice, but that's the reason you practice. We have to keep working harder.

"We looked tired and real sloppy," he added. "We're making a lot of mistakes that we won't make a week from now. That's the reason you go in two-a-days, to make them real tired and make them think under pressure. A lot of these younger guys' eyes are getting bigger and bigger as we go along here. They are not used to this intensity and the pressure being put on them every time the ball is snapped and expected to be perfect on every play."

Without Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown running the ball on offense the defense held the upper hand in the short yardage scrimmage despite starters Bret Eddins and Jay Ratliff watching from the sidelines. Wanting to get a look at some of the younger players in live action the coaching staff put them into the fire and Tuberville said there seemed to be some positives out of that portion of the practice.

"It wasn't too bad," Tuberville said. "There were just a lot of mistakes. Offensively, it's tough because you don't have a plan on what you're going to see from the defense and they ran a couple of movements up front that gave us some problems. This was basically for the defense today. We got in two tight ends and two backs and ran some base plays in short yardage. We wanted to give the defense a look to see if they knew how to line up and change the tempo a little bit."

Defender Josh Thompson (orange jersey) attempts to crash the party while offensive guard Ben Grubbs looks to cut him off.

While the short yardage scrimmage was mainly for the defense it didn't keep quarterback Jason Campbell from mincing words about the performance of the offense on Wednesday. Although they are busy putting in new things and learning on the run, the senior said the Tigers can't afford to practice the way they did on Wednesday.

"To be honest, offensively I don't think we did as good as we've been doing," Campbell said. "Today was one of those days where we were going through the motions. I think it has a lot to do with guys trying to recover and get our legs back. We'll bounce back, it's just a matter of re-focusing."

Determined to build depth at every position on offense, Coach Al Borges and the rest of the staff substituted liberally in the scrimmage setting, playing three groups of offensive linemen along with Tre Smith and Andrew Turman in the starting backfield. Campbell said getting used to different players in different roles takes some time.

"Right now we're changing our personnel," Campbell said. "We have a lot of different guys and it just takes time to get used to guys. That's especially true for me, changing out centers. I take a lot of snaps from Ingle (Jeremy Ingle) and taking them from Ross (Steven Ross) feels a little different because I haven't taken them from him. That's something I have to get used to."

Splitting time at the center position, both Ingle and Ross worked with the first team offense on Wednesday. While it's not surprising to see Ross getting reps, it is sooner than expected out of the former tight end and offensive tackle. Campbell said he's been impressed by the job that Ross has done and he's looking forward to working more with him as he battles Ingle for the starting job.

"Steven is a real good center," Campbell said. "He's a big, tall, physical guy that can make plays for you in the blocking scheme. It's just a matter of me and him getting together and getting used to each other."

On the injury front, running back Jerald Watson watched much of the practice from the sidelines after stretching a thigh muscle. He should return to practice in a few days. Carlos Rogers, Cooper Wallace and Jake Slaughter all continue to rehab, but should be back early next week.

A strength through the first five days of practice, the kicking game struggled some to close Wednesday's practice. Almost automatic this fall, senior Philip Yost missed kicks from 46 and 49 yards, but was 4-4 inside the 42. Sophomore John Vaughn missed just once from 46 yards and made his other five kicks, the last from 49 yards out.

The Tigers are scheduled to return to practice Thursday morning at 9:30, but the tropical weather system in the Gulf of Mexico could change those plans. Friday the team is scheduled to practice just once in preparation for Saturday morning's scrimmage. The scrimmage is scheduled to be held in Jordan-Hare Stadium, but more rain would likely move it to the intramural fields Saturday morning.


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