Second Scrimmage Receives Mixed Reviews

Comments from Tommy Tuberville, Gene Chizik, Al Borges and others are featured following Auburn's second major preseason football scrimmage.

Auburn, Ala.--Neither offensive coordinator Al Borges nor defensive coordinator Gene Chizik said they were particularly pleased with what they saw on Friday evening at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

After a 45-minute workout at the football practice field on the artificial turf, the entire Auburn football team hiked up the street to Jordan-Hare Stadium for a situational scrimmage that lasted nearly two hours. Although the defense was not pushed around as much as it was in the first scrimmage of the preseason, Chizik was unhappy with the play of the defense overall and the secondary that he personally coaches.

"At times it looked like we are (improving), but we get them on third and a zillion down here at the end and then the tight end is running free," Chizik said. "I could have covered him (Kyle Derozan)." Derozan, who was uncovered on the play in the two-minute drill, juggled the pass near the goal line and finally caught it after he had stepped out of bounds.

Chizik said plays like that irk him. "That is pee-wee football." the defensive coordinator said. "We have a lot of things we have get better at doing it. I don't really don't know if we played better in this scrimmage until I see the video. I hope it was better."

Borges said he thought the offense did some things better in last Saturday's scrimmage. "I think for the most part the quarterbacks weren't too bad, but I think they were better in the first scrimmage," he noted. "It wasn't terrible. There were a couple big plays. Overall, we are a not a finished product as an offense, but we are making some progress in the right direction."

Jason Campbell completed seven of 12 passes and ran for a TD.

Borges said the positive he saw on Friday evening was the ability to put the ball in the end zone in goal line situations. "That is something that Hugh Nall worked on with the offensive line in practice this week and I give him credit for that," Borges said. "That was an improvement over the first scrimmage."

It rained heavily before the scrimmage and the Tigers appeared a bit sluggish on the warm and humid evening as they got their practice session in the books before the rains came again on Friday night. As was the case in the first scrimmage, it was an evening to focus on young players again as a variety of the veterans, who are not full speed with nagging injuries, watched the action from the sidelines.

Starting quarterback Jason Campbell was solid as he hit 7-12 passes for 92 yards, but he did make a mistake when he tried to force a pass into the middle of the field and sophomore cornerback Montae Pitts was there for an interception. The only other turnover of the session came on a fumble by tailback Tre Smith, who also lost a fumble in the previous scrimmage.

The starting tailbacks, Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown, watched almost all of the action from the sidelines. However, they did make a cameo appearance during the two-minute drill work after the scrimmage when they were declared off limits from tackles and were ruled down on contact. Both tailbacks looked quick.

Other key players such as defensive ends Bret Eddins, Stanley McClover and Marquies Gunn were held out of the scrimmage along with cornerback Carlos Rogers. That gave plenty of playing time to newcomers such as end Christopher Browder, who had five tackles to lead the defensive line. Freshman end Quentin Groves had three tackles, numerous pressures, one sack and forced a fumble. Travis Williams had seven stops to lead all tacklers.

Offensively, the Tigers played without sophomore guard Jarrod Britt, who is scheduled to have shoulder surgery next week and will be lost for the season. Britt says the surgery is to repair an injury he originally hurt as a high school wrestler. He can return in 2005 as a redshirt sophomore.

"I had a chance to play this year so it is really disappointing to me," Britt said. Surgery is planned for Wednesday.

Head coach Tommy Tuberville joined his coordinators in giving the scrimmage less than enthusiastic reviews. "We looked a little ragged today, but we got through it," he said. "We went through all of our different situations. I don't know how many we held out--it had to be 12 to 15 guys.

"The timing wasn't quite there offensively," Tuberville said. "We struggled to get the ball across the goal line early, but I thought defensively we played hard. We still made a lot of mistakes. It is going to take a lot film-looking to tell how good some of the younger guys did. I did notice Tony Bell out there laying some licks. He is going to make the mix. That is one guy who showed up."

The Tigers will be back on the practice field on Saturday afternoon after spending the morning reviewing video of the Friday evening scrimmage.

"We gave up too many big plays, too many busted assignments like right there at the end when the tight end dropped the ball," Tuberville said. "We didn't drop many. (Devin) Aromashodu dropped one. You are going to have a few. We have looked at all of our percentages over all of our contact periods and most every receiver has caught nine out of 10 passes."

Taiback Carl Stewart had his second straight good scrimmage performance.

The field goal kicking in the regular part of the scrimmage was solid, but both John Vaughn and Philip Yost struggled in the two-minute drill kicking period. Vaughn was 4-4 with makes from 34, 48, 39 and 40 in the regular scrimmage. He missed from 31, 44, 37 and 39 yards while hitting a 37-yarder in the two-minute drill period. Yost missed from 31, 44 and 39 yards and made 31 and 37 field goals in the two-minute drill and he was 3-4 in the regular scrimmage with makes of 34, 39 and 40 with the miss from 48.

Vaughn had been making nearly every kick for more than a week until the two-minute drill on Friday. "Our kicking needs to be more consistent, but John did tell me that his leg was tired late in the scrimmage and that probably explains what happened to him at the end," Tuberville said. "It is something we will continue to work on and try to decide on a kicker a week or so before the opening game."

Senior QB Campbell echoed the opinion of the coaching staff that he needed to watch what happened on video to get a better feel for what took place in the scrimmage. "Some good things happened today on offense," he said. "We got it on tape and we will go back and watch film and see what we need to work on and come back out over the weekend and work on that. "

Borges said one thing he liked about the offense was the ability to make plays in the two-minute drill. "We did a good job, but we had a few management busts, which always happens now," he said. "Thank God something happens now and hopefully it won't happen when it counts."

Like Campbell, junior linebacker Travis Williams said the Tigers need to learn from the scrimmage when they study the video. "We are coming along, but we have a lot of work to do," Williams said." We just have to stick together, watch a lot of film and learn from our mistakes. In a scrimmage like this we need to see who is running to the ball and playing with effort and toughness. I am pretty sure every linebacker made a mistake."

Freshman Carl Stewart led all rushers with 34 yards on six carries. He scored a on a seven-yard sweep off left end. Tre Smith netted 33 yards on 16 caries. Brad Lester had 17 yards on five carries. Fellow freshman tailback Jerald Watson, just back from a thigh injury, had three carries for six yards. Kenny Irons had three carries for 15 yards and a TD. Jason Campbell scored on a run around end.

In addition to Campbell and Cox, the freshman QBs got to throw a total of 10 passes. Calvin Booker was 3-6 for 23 yards while Blake Field was 1-4 for six yards.

James Swinton caught three passes for 60 yards with one TD to lead the receivers. His longest catch was a 36-yarder. Courtney Taylor had three catches for 22 yards. Aromashodu had two catches for 22 and Stewart had two catches for 22 yards. Anthony Mix made two catches for 18 yards, Ben Obomanu had one catch for 36, Mike McLaughlin 1 for 10, Kyle Derozan one for seven, walk-on tight end John Isbell had one for six and Watson had two catches for negative six yards.

Tiger Ticket Extra: Tommy Tuberville said that two young defensive linemen are making progress. "Quinton Groves is still learning how to play defensive end. He is understanding how to play. Pat Sims is going to help us at tackle. He will play this year. I have coached defense a long time and normally young defensive backs don't show up in the running game, but I saw a lot of good things out there from Tony Bell."


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories