Physical Offense Sets The Tone In Final Scrimmage

Auburn's offense came out running in the final scrimmage of the spring and the result was a solid day for Coach Al Borges' group.

Auburn, Ala.–-There comes a time every spring that the coaches want to see some toughness out of a football team. Wednesday it was that time for the Auburn offense as offensive coordinator Al Borges challenged his team to be physical at the point of attack from the beginning of the day and the group responded with a solid day of football to close out the spring.

"It was a good way to finish," Borges said. "It was fun. It was a good spring. A good spring to me is a spring where there's an even exchange of punches, where the defense gets some and the offense gets some. This scrimmage was kind of indicative of that I think. You know if there's some balance you have a chance to be pretty good because there's not going to be one side of the ball that's weak. I think we had a nice, even exchange all the way through the spring."

The day got off to a great start for the offense as it ran the ball 16 consecutive times on the opening drive before Tre Smith scored from two yards out on the left side. It was the culmination of a strong first statement by the offense that the day was going to be different than last Saturday's A-Day game that saw the team score just six points.

"They've got such great pass rushers that we decided to come out this time and grind them a little bit and establish (the run)," Borges said. "Usually one time during the spring we do that and say ‘let's see if we just can't run it and run it and run it'. I don't like doing that every time because you never develop your quarterbacks, but there's a point where it's a good opportunity to establish some toughness on both sides of the ball. For us, today was that day."

Redshirt freshman quarterback Blake Field has come on strong in recent weeks as has fellow freshman Calvin Booker.

The running them continued throughout the day as the offense ran the ball 63 times for 261 yards and four touchdowns. Two of the touchdowns came from Smith, who ran the ball 19 times for 118 yards. Borges said that Smith showed something on Wednesday that he hadn't seen since this spring, but saw this time last year.

"I think he had his best day," Borges said of Smith. "He really ran hard and broke tackles. He was dynamite today. He showed today what he showed the whole spring a year ago. He had a phenomenal spring a year ago. Because we've been dividing the backfield and the backs up, he actually probably played a little more last year in the spring. I don't know if he's ever had the chance to get in a rhythm, which you can do in a game, but here today he got a little rhythm and showed what he's capable of."

While the running game was solid, the passing game struggled at times in the face of enormous pressure from the first-team defense. Once again Stanley McClover and Quentin Groves terrorized first-team quarterback Brandon Cox and sacked him numerous times. Cox still managed to complete six of 16 passes for 56 yards and one touchdown and didn't throw an interception. Back-ups Blake Field and Calvin Booker were both solid as Field was 4-11 for 88 yards with two touchdowns and one interception while Booker was 4-10 for 40 yards with one pick. Borges said that he felt like the quarterbacks were okay on Wednesday, but he likes the improvement out of the freshman in recent practices.

"It wasn't bad," Borges said of the quarterback play overall. "It wasn't great, it wasn't bad. That's something before I make an evaluation about I like to watch the tape and grade them and get a final product, but it was okay. I don't know that it was outstanding, but it was okay.

"The young quarterbacks, in the last week and a half, have made a full step forward," Borges added. "We still have a lot more to do, but what we've got now is a foundation for teaching. They've got enough tape now that they can come in on their own and look at the tape and see where their mistakes are. You don't have to look at scout team tapes anymore, you can look at them running our offense."

Auburn now puts the pads away until next August when the Tigers open two-a-days as the reigning SEC Champions. Borges said there is a lot of work to be done between now and then for the entire offense, but he feels like the unit is on track to be ready for Georgia Tech on Sept. 3 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in the season opener.

"If you compared it to last spring I don't think we were as productive, but when you consider the positions we're changing I think we're on schedule," Borges said. "When you consider that we have a NFL backfield to change I think the kids have done a pretty good job. Now all we have to do is pick up where we left off. The kids on their own have to go out and improve themselves because we can't do anything with them anymore."

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