Borges, Offense Busy On Opening Practice Day

A detailed report on the opening day of spring football practice is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--There was little sign of spring weather on the Auburn campus as the Tigers opened spring training with a two-hour and twenty minute practice on a cold and windy Tuesday.

Coach Tommy Tuberville said he didn't like the weather, but he noted the Tigers had a "good first day" considering the team "can't do a lot" for the first two practices in which the team practices in shorts/sweats and helmets with no pads.

One thing the Tigers did work on was the passing game with offensive coordinator Al Borges getting a good look at quarterbacks Brandon Cox, Calvin Booker, Blake Field and Dusty Goodwin.

Cox, a 6-2, 202 sophomore, is the number one quarterback now with Jason Campbell graduated. The lefty had a good day throwing the ball despite the wind and the cold.

"You couldn't tell a lot about the quarterbacks today," Tuberville said. "You could tell there was a lot of intensity and guys concentrating a lot, but we will be able to tell a lot more when we get to Saturday's practice (10 a.m. scrimmage). We are going to throw a lot at them.

"Our implementation chart of putting in formations and plays is a lot more extensive than it was at this time last year," Tuberville noted. "Most of the guys know a little bit about the offense. Coach Borges wants to throw it all at them and get as much in the scrimmage as we can.

"We are going to do a lot of blitz periods when we get into pads (Thursday's practice) because in this offense that is the one thing the quarterbacks really have to master--being able to get it to the right guy in a short period of time. We have got a lot to learn."

Tuberville said it will be a challenge for Cox and the other quarterbacks to follow in the footsteps of Jason Campbell, who is coming off one of the greatest seasons by a QB in Auburn history. "I think the biggest thing is how much pressure a quarterback puts on himself," Tuberville said. "Obviously, in this league quarterbacks are interviewed a lot, talked to a lot and there is a lot of talk about them. A guy like Jason, who never really let it bother him, was the type who probably could handle it a little better. We are yet to be able tell to whether Brandon or Calvin Booker or Blake Field or Dusty (Dusty Goodwin), with their mentality, how they handle the pressure of being a quarterback in the SEC. Some handle it better than others."

Borges said his QBs were "completely confused, half of them, but they were okay" for the first practice of the 2005 season. Field and Booker are redshirt freshmen. Goodwin is a sophomore.

The offensive coordinator and QB coach noted that his current No. 1 signal caller, Cox, "picked up where he left off."

"He played pretty good today," Borges said of Cox. "He has a had a year to take repetitions with the twos, but still got all of the game plan stuff. He has a pretty good feel for our offense although he doesn't have a heck of a lot experience. He has got a little bit of experience. I thought he had a pretty good day today.

"The other kids showed the ability, but their heads were swimming," Borges added. "There is just so much to learn. One thing about this position is there is only so much you can learn in the classroom. I mean you can go in there and watch the tapes and all of that, but until you ‘body learn' all of the sight adjustments, the hots, the checks and all of that, you don't really know it.

"That is the difference between football and just taking like a math class," Borges added. "You can take a test and if you get an A you are an A student, but in football you can take a test, but if you don't pass the lab you are an F student."

Tuberville will send his Tigers back on the practice field for another session without pads on Wednesday. The team will work out in pads on Thursday and Friday before Saturday's first scrimmage.

"We have got a lot of young guys who have a lot to do," Tuberville said. "We spend more times in meetings than we do on the field when we have practice in shorts. We are going to have a lot of competition in most areas. We have a lot of young guys who have redshirted, some who haven't played. They are going to be trying to find their position whether it is where they are playing now or whether we move them as we go to the spring.

"There will be a little movement after the first week," Tuberville added. "The first week is always interesting when you have got a new defensive coordinator (David Gibbs) and a lot of young players because you do move people around so we are going to go through the first scrimmage on Saturday and see where we are at."

Kenny Irons is expected to challenge for a starting job at tailback with Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams headed to the NFL.

In other news:

*Stephen Ross was on the field riding an exercise bike as he continues his rehab from knee surgery. He is expected to join the competition for the starting center spot in August. Walk-on Joe Cope, a 6-0, 276 junior, worked with the first unit at center while 6-5, 302 sophomore Leon Hart ran with the second team. Grayshirt true freshman Jason Bosley, who is 6-4, 271 pounds, is the third string center.

*New defensive coordinator David Gibbs was busy teaching his safeties and cornerbacks new drills and skills he wants them to master to play in the secondary. Montae Pitts had a strong day in pass coverage. David Irons, Jr., who is coming off of knee surgery, got some work, too, but has not regained his quickness he had last summer.

*Gibbs had sophomore Eric Brock working with the first defense at safety on Tuesday with Tony Bell missing practice because of what Tuberville said were "academic obligations."

Antarrious Williams got work with the first unit at weakside linebacker in the non-contact drills. For the third time in his AU career, he is playing with a protective cast on his body. This one covers his hand, wrist and part of his arm while he continues to recover from wrist surgery after being injured in the victory over Georgia.

*Tuberville said the practice had a different feel without his large and vibrant senior class that played such a big role in the 13-0 2004 season. He did hear a familiar voice when 2004 All-American safety Junior Rosegreen called the head coach to check up on the Tigers just before Auburn hit the field for the first time this spring.

*Kenny Irons is now wearing the No. 23 jersey that Ronnie Brown wore last year. Tuberville said he is excited about seeing if the transfer from South Carolina, who sat out last year, can make a run at the No. 1 tailback job.

*Borges said that he is already seeing signs of some new looks in the secondary with a change in management on defense. "We are pretty much the same, we are a 4-3 team, but they are moving the coverages around a little more than they were before, which is tough. He (Gibbs) knows what he is doing. This is no new deal to him. Being up in the NFL for a while, he has a good feel for how to really play with those pass coverages."

*Borges said after practice that Jason Campbell called him from the NFL Combine on Monday night and updated his coach, in great detail, with how that was going. Borges joked that for the first several months he coached Campbell, the senior QB said little more than "yes sir" in their conversations. He says that Brandon Cox is quiet, too, but is showing signs of becoming a more confident, outgoing QB type leader.


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