Saturday's first scrimmage likely made believers out of everyone that doubted as Lorenzo Diamond, Robert Johnson and redshirt freshman sensation Cooper Wallace combined for 13 catches and 184 yards in a solid first scrimmage of the spring.
"With what we have in now offensively, there are a lot of plays to the tight end," coach Tommy Tuberville said following the scrimmage. "That's the reason we threw a lot to the tight end today...he wanted to mostly put the two tight end offense in first to get a look at it. Obviously, we're going to have to start doing more with the wide receivers because you have to get it outside and get it deeper down the field. That was our starting point with the tailback, fullback and tight end."
Finding a comfort zone for the quarterbacks was the main focus of the first scrimmage and that fit in well with the theme of throwing more to the tight ends. With 184 of the 289 passing yards going to the tight ends, quarterback Daniel Cobb said that having talented targets at that position to throw to makes it easy to look their way.
"They create a match-up problem for defenses--all three of them because of their size and what they are able to do with their bodies as far as positioning it in front of the defenders making catches," Cobb noted. "You saw that a few times today with Cooper, Lorenzo and Robert. It was good to see them get some catches and do some things after they got the ball in their hands. I know they made a few third down conversions for both the one and two offense so that was good to see."
Perhaps no one was happier following Saturday's scrimmage than Diamond. Toiling in anonymity for much of the last three seasons, the senior has heard all the talk about how the tight ends were going to be the center of the offense only to see that not come to fruition once the ball is snapped. This time around he believes what he's heard.
"The promise of the tight ends getting the ball has been said for three or four years now," Diamond noted. "To finally get the ball like we did today is a relief, a big strain off our shoulders. We knew we had the talent, we just weren't getting the ball. Today we picked it up, caught a few balls and made a few plays...it feels good. The pressure is on us to make a lot of plays and we accept the challenge and we're ready for it."
While Diamond has gone through the tough years at tight end, Wallace is coming off a freshman year spent on the scout team. Impressing the defensive coaches all last fall with his intensity and willingness to do anything that was asked of him, the Nashville native gave a glimpse of the future on Saturday. Catching five passes for 88 yards, he got the spring off to a roaring start but says there is plenty of work left to do before he proclaims himself as the next great tight end to put on an Auburn uniform.
"I just want to be more consistent," Wallace said. "I want to block good for the entire scrimmage, not have any lapse or any loafs. I have to continue to get in better shape and learn the new stuff coming in because we have a lot coming in next Wednesday. We just have to keep studying and work hard to be consistent."
Tiger Ticket Extra: While he won't be a tight end, one of the more impressive visitors at Saturday's scrimmage was a sight to behold. Current volunteer coach Doug Smith was joined by his two sons at the scrimmage and both were mammoth in size. At 15-years old, the older son weighs in at 330 pounds and wears a size 18 shoe. The younger son, at 14, is 6-3 and weighs in the 280-290 pound range. The boys live in Houston, Tex., with their mother, former Auburn All-American basketall player Becky Jackson. Smith and Jackson are divorced. Smith was a star defensive tackle for Pat Dye who went on to stardom with the NFL's Houston Oilers.
* * *