Defense Stands Tall On Wednesday

Another intense, spirited practice was the order of the day for the Auburn Tigers as they worked for nearly two hours in Jordan-Hare Stadium in full pads Wednesday afternoon.

Auburn, Ala.--Determined not to give in three days in a row, the defense rose to the occasion Wednesday afternoon at the close of practice with not one but two stops in the offense versus defense goal line drills. In the first team, quarterback Jason Campbell led the offense to the brink of success but a fourth down run by Ronnie Brown came up short, much to the delight of the defensive coaches. The second team defense fared even better as short gains on first and second down were followed by an Alton Moore stuff of a Utah pass on third down setting up the play of the day. Dropping back to pass, Daniel Cobb threw to a seemingly wide open Lorenzo Diamond in the end zone. In on defense for just the second day in live situations, true freshman linebacker Lemarcus Rowell came from nowhere to knock the pass away setting off a mob scene in the end zone as the entire defense celebrated the stop.

Linebacker Dontarrious Thomas talks with Lemarcus Rowell during Wednesday's practice.

"It has created a lot of enthusiasm and intensity out there," offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said of the goal line situations each of the last three days. "Everyday we have gone goal line against each other. The first couple of days we had our successes down there and the defense really got excited today. They played tough down there. I think anything competitive like that makes you better."

Standing out for the defense on Wednesday were Roshard Gilyard and Junior Rosegreen. Each had big hits during the goal line situations and Rosegreen continually held his man without a catch for much of the practice.

With starting tailback Carnell Williams still very doubtful to see playing time against North Carolina, the job once again falls to redshirt freshman Brown and sophomores Chris Butler and Casinious Moore. Moore, who will split time between running back and receiver in the game on December 31, is expected to see action mostly at receiver leaving much of the load to Brown and Butler.

"I think coach has confidence in all of us no matter who it is that is going to go in and play," Brown said. "'Lac' (Williams) came in and proved himself, Casinious had a couple of good games, myself I think I played pretty good at the beginning of the year and Chris came in the LSU game and ran the ball well and had a touchdown."

Ronnie Brown is expected to earn the start against North Carolina.

Brown also sees good things out of the quarterback play for this game as Campbell and Cobb have both shown signs of improvement since the Tigers last played a game. Knowing that it will take a complete game from Campbell for his team to beat the Tar Heels, Brown said the redshirt freshman has made strides to be a better player and it's showing dividends in his play this week.

"You can tell he's growing a little bit more," he said. "He's getting real comfortable with what we are doing on offense. Coach has him calling out the defenses, both quarterbacks he and Cobb. I think he's getting real adjusted to the offense and getting a feel for what he has to do and what everybody else has to do. I think that's real good for Jason."

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Following the practice, the team knelt and talked about the remaining two days of work expected of them before having a session of one-on-one in the middle of the huddle. In days past it has been players like Rosegreen and Joe Walkins that have tangled in the hand-to-hand combat. Wednesday it was the even younger kids turn to step up as Cooper Wallace and Travis Williams squared off in bout one. Dominating from the word go, Wallace controlled Williams for three straight plays before two more opponents were called to the ring. This time Larry Summers and Brett Holliman took their turn. In somewhat of a surprise, Summers showed a physical nature not expected of him and handled Holliman for three straight plays.

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