Tuberville Encouraged By Opening Scrimmage

The football Tigers scrimmaged for more than two hours on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn, Ala.--Strong play from the tight ends was the highlight for the offense and a solid all-around performance was the story for the defense, which did not give up any big plays at Auburn's first major scrimmage of the spring.

The longest play of the two-hour and 15-minute session at Jordan-Hare Stadium was a 24-yard Daniel Cobb to Cooper Wallace pass. The longest run was a near touchdown by Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, who raced 17 yards around left end before being ruled out of bounds at the three. The sophomore looked like former star Brent Fullwood with his burst of speed on the play.

It was more of a situational scrimmage than a traditional scrimmage. Drives were ended at a certain play count regardless of the down or distance. There were no lengthy drives for scores and the four touchdowns were on short runs by tailbacks Williams, Ronnie Brown, Casinious Moore and Chris Butler. All three backups answered the bell for the fight for playing time at a crowded position.

Ronnie Brown scores a touchdown in Saturday's scrimmage.

The news on offense was the continuing emergence of redshirt freshman Cooper Wallace, who again showed why talented Jay Ratliff was moved to defensive end. Wallace, currently the third stringer behind senior Lorenzo Diamond and junior Robert Johnson, caught five passes for 58 yards and had several crushing blocks.

"I was a little bit nervous before going," said Wallace, who admitted he had a difficult time sleeping on Friday night. "Coach has been telling us all spring and all winter we are going to get the ball this year. We have always been saying last year we wished we would get more balls and coach told us what we wished for is coming true now. I was a little nervous coming in, but it was exciting. It feels good to be fully a part of the team now."

Both quarterbacks worked the tight ends and had almost identical statistics. Daniel Cobb, who spent more time with the second offense going against the two defense, hit 16-28 passes for 146 yards. Six of his completions were to tight ends.

Jason Campbell, who hit 16-27 passes for 140 yards, completed seven of his passes to tight ends.

Bobby Petrino, who coordinates the offense and coaches the quarterbacks, said, "I was happy with the way we got the ball to the tight ends. I was happy with all three of them. I thought they all made some plays. They need to get in a little better condition because they did get tired. They might not be used to that.

Jason Campbell is pressured by defensive lineman Wayne Dickens, who had a pair of sacks in the scrimmage.

"I thought our running game looked good at times and showed some physicalness," Petrino added. "We have got some good running backs now so we have got to do a good job making sure we can throw the ball so we can take the pressure off of them. Our weaknesses showed up with our speed outside. They got us in some press. When they press and keep an extra guy in there for the run you have got to be able to make some big plays outside. Once we are able to get that straightened out and make some big plays, I think we will be OK."

Petrino said neither quarterback stood out over the other ones and neither played as well as they had in practice earlier in the week. "They'll get better," he said.

Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik said he needed to study the video of what happened to make detailed comments, but said, "I am pretty pleased with happened today." Chizik did say that linebackers Karlos Dansby and Dontarrious Thomas were obvious standouts and that defensive tackle Spencer Johnson, who had two sacks, were all impressive. Chizik noted that the defense stayed basic most of the session.

Head coach Tommy Tuberville said he thought both quarterbacks were solid and singled out the play of the tight ends as a highlight.

Tuberville said the Tigers will take Sunday-Tuesday off and return to the practice field on Wednesday. He noted that he hopes the time off will give some injured players like defensive ends Jay Ratliff and Reggie Torbor and cornerback Carlos Rogers time to recover so they can return to practice.

"We are going to add more of the offense and defense the next few practices," Tuberville said. "And, we are going to give our defense a better chance. Today, we only played a couple of fronts and we are going to do a little more blitzing for the rest of spring practice, plus put our short yardage offense and defense in."

Tuberville called the 2002 Tigers "a fun group" to work with and said the intensity in practice has been good and the leadership is getting better. "They know they have got a chance to be pretty good. I know the leaders, especially the seniors, are not going to take anything for granted for the next few weeks. They are going to work hard to try to get everything out of everybody we can."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Robert Johnson caught five passes for 60 yards and Cooper Wallace had five for 58. Lorenzo Diamond added three catches for 36 yards. "This offense is going to be exciting for the tight ends," Johnson said...Defensive highlights included strong play from the linebackers as a group as Mark Brown, Dontarrious Thomas and freshmen Lemarcus Rowell, Antarrious Williams and Travis Williams all had good days...The Tigers closed the scrimmage with field goal kicking. Damon Duval made a 27 yarder, missed a 35-yarder, made a 47-yarder, missed a 48-yarder, made a 54-yarder and made a 59-yarder. Phillip Yost missed a 27-yarder, made a 35-yarder, missed a 47-yarder, missed a 48-yarder, made a 54-yarder and missed a 59-yarder. "Damon kicked well today," Tuberville said. "He made some long field goals and his consistency is getting better, too."...Offensive tackle by Ryan Broome had a strong game after being demoted to second team. Monreko Crittenden moved outside to tackle and Nate French and redshirt freshman David Walker started at the guard spots...Two sacks apiece by Spencer Johnson and redshirt freshman noseguard Wayne Dickens highlighted the defensive line play. Dickens also made a big hit on a goal line play...It was a solid day by running backs Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, Chris Butler and Casinious Moore. Williams ran the ball 11 times for 48 yards and one TD. He said he doesn't even think about the shoulder injury when he is on the field, which was battle tested in the Tuesday workout when he was leveled by a big hit from Roshard Gilyard. Moore netted 41 yards on 12 tough carries and scored on a one-yard run. Butler had 40 yards on nine carries and scored on a five-yard touchdown run. Brown had 28 yards on nine carries and scored on a two-yard run....Dontarrious Thomas led all tacklers with eight solos and nine assists. Free safety Travaris Robinson and linebacker Travis Williams each had big days with six solo tackles and two assists. Cornerback Dee Durham had six solo stops. Chizik said he liked the coverage work of the cornerbacks as a group.

* * *

Discuss Auburn sports With Mark Murphy and Jason Caldwell on the Auburn fans only Tiger Ticket Premium Forum. It is free to Tiger Ticket subscribers.

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories