The defense set the tone early with a series of bone-jarring hits and rarely let up as the defensive front, linebackers and secondary put a physical whipping on the offense for most of the 150 plays.
"I think the defense got after us pretty good," said offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino. "We had trouble blocking their front and you saw where we couldn't make the plays with the one on one matchups with our wide receivers. I think you have got to take your hat off to the defense. I thought they did a better job of playing full speed and more physically than we did on offense."
Reggie Torbor battles Ryan Broome in Saturday's scrimmage. Torbor had a huge scrimmage after returning from an injury.
Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik had more reason to be upbeat. "I thought there were some good things that happened with the first group," he said. "They are starting to come together and we are starting to get a little bit of continuity to the defense. We are getting some people healthy. On the second team, we have got to have some people step up and make plays now."
The action was particularly impressive to several former Tiger standouts who were enjoying the physical play from the sidelines, cheering on their former defensive teammates. Marcus Washington, Haven Fields, Alex Lincoln and Josh Weldon were leading the cheers for the physical play and daring the offense to play with the same level of toughness. Rarely did that happen on Saturday.
The first team defense yielded very little and all of the scoring action came against the second defense or a mixture of second stringers and third stringers. There were 26 offensive possessions. Six ended in touchdowns. Daniel Cobb was the quarterback for three scores against the No. 2 defense and Jason Campbell was the QB for three scores against backup defenders.
Daniel Cobb passes on Saturday as freshman defensive end Steven Bouldin pressures the QB.
Although freshman tight end Cooper Wallace had another strong day with seven catches for 94 yards, all of the other stars of the scrimmage were on defense.
The biggest star of the day was junior Reggie Torbor, who just returned to practice this week after suffering a hamstring injury in winter workouts. The defense had 16 sacks, one every 9.4 plays in the scrimmage. Torbor had six by himself, running past weakside offensive tackle Ryan Broome or anybody else who got in his way.
"He is going to make our offensive line a lot better," Coach Tommy Tuberville said of Torbor, a 248-pound junior. "We have a long way to go offensively."
Torbor, who has gained 40 pounds since arriving as a freshman who was a running back in high school, said he believes the defense has a chance to be very strong this year. The Auburn coaches are predicting the junior can be very strong himself. "Personally, I feel that I have a chance to be a good player," Torbor said. "Being a good player just doesn't happen. You have to work hard and earn it. Hopefully, I will just continue to get better and see how it goes on Sept. 2nd."
Linebackers Mark Brown and Dontarrious Thomas each had big days for the defense. Brown was the leading tackler with eight solos and three assists. He had one sack and two other tackles for losses. Thomas had six solos, four assists, one sack and two other tackles for losses.
"We knew we had to turn up the intensity today because the offense had put in some new formations that we had to be ready for," said Thomas. "Coach (Chizik) put in some more formations for us and called on us to step up to the plate. In the first scrimmage in the first half, we did pretty well and in the second half the offense kind of took over. This time we made it a point to play a complete game."
Brown, a senior middle linebacker, agreed with Thomas that the defense played with intensity. "We started off well and the most important thing is we finished off strong, too," Brown said. "We took pride on not letting them score on the first team today. We had a lot of fun running to the football. If we made a mistake, we made it at full speed."
Junior Rosegreen had several impressive plays as the starting strong safety. Backup strong safety Roshard Gilyard got the defense excited with some crunching hits. Rosegreen had seven tackles, including one sack and another tackle for a loss. Gilyard had four solo tackles and three assists.
Cornerback Carlos Rogers, who was absent a week earlier with a hamstring problem, was impressive with his coverage. Defensive tackle Spencer Johnson had two tackles for losses and put good pressure on the QBs. Wayne Dickens had seven tackles, including two sacks and another for a loss. Chizik said that he liked what he saw from Dickens, a redshirt freshman noseguard.
Chris Butler gets on the corner in Saturday's scrimmage.
Chris Butler survived a half dozen big hits to lead the running backs with 79 yards on 19 carries. Ronnie Brown ran the ball 18 times for 61 yards. Carnell Williams had eight carries for 39 yards. Casinious Moore looked good early with four carries for 36 yards before being sidelined with a stinger.
Moore's injury is not believed to be serious. Wallace suffered a hip pointer, but kept on playing. Cobb was hit on the hand on a pass rush, but returned later in the scrimmage.
"We are struggling right now at quarterback and both need every rep they can get," Tuberville said. "There is not a lot separation between either one of them. Three weeks from today we will have our starting quarterback going into two-a-days. Right now I don't know who that would be. To me, just looking at today's practice...in overall production Daniel obviously looked better than Jason."
Cobb recovered from shaky practices on Wednesday and Friday to hit 18-37 passes for 237 yards with one interception and one TD. Campbell completed 15-25 with one interception and three touchdowns.
Campbell led the second offense on scoring drives of 12 plays for 80 yards, four plays for 25 yards and nine plays for 50 yards. He threw TD passes to fullback Michael Owens and tight ends Wallace and Robert Johnson. The TD to Owens was a swing pass to the flat for two yards. Wallace bulled his way into the end zone on an 11-yard play and Johnson caught a seven-yarder as he was falling in the end zone.
Owens scored the first TD of the scrimmage with Cobb at QB, making three yards up the middle to cap a seven-play, 80-yard drive. Butler scored on a four-yard run up the middle to finish an eight-play, 45-yard drive and at the end of the scrimmage walk-on wide receiver Todd Bradford scored on a 45-yard pass from Cobb on the eighth play of an 80-yard drive during the two-minute offense portion of the scrimmage.
"I thought Daniel Cobb did a good job today," Tuberville said. "He had a chance to go with the ones and took advantage of it. We will look at the film and see where we rank those guys and make a complete depth chart after tomorrow. We will arrange a lot of people. I was really proud of Daniel, how he was picking up things and making more plays and made more plays today than Jason did.
"All of the running backs ran well--ran harder than we did last week, made more plays, made people miss and broke tackles, Tuberville said. "Cooper Wallace was probably the highlight of the offense, though. Cooper is getting better and better. He is a guy who is making plays after he is catching the ball and that is what we haven't been doing at tight end."
"Defensively, we came out to have a good time today. Defense is easier. As I told everybody, defense should win most every scrimmage in the spring and they have done that so far, but they continue to get better. They have a lot of speed on defense. I think the coaches have done a good job teaching some of the new things we are doing, but we still have got a ways to go.
"Going against our offense right now is really not an indicator of how good or bad we are on defense right no," Tuberville stated. "We have got to make sure we try to continue to get better and better. Reggie Torbor showed up. It was good to see Carlos Rogers back. I thought the linebackers tackled well. We played good inside the red zone on defense. We made plays. We did miss some tackles and we did get tired, but it has been a long day and it has been hot out here."
The Tigers wrapped up the scrimmage with field goals. Damon Duval missed a 32-yarder and a 49-yarder. He was good from 37, 45 and 57 yards. Philip Yost hit field goals of 32 yards, 37 and 45 but missed one from 49 and missed two tries from 57. "Our punting is getting better and our field goals are getting better," Tuberville said. "We have to get a little more consistent with Philip Yost. Damon did miss a couple today."
Looking at the big picture of spring training, Tuberville said, "It has been good so far, but we have a long way to go."
Robert Johnson makes a catch. He caught five balls for 39 yards and one touchdown in the scrimmage.
Tiger Ticket Extra: The Tigers will return to practice for a learning session on Wednesday and will have a full contact workout on Thursday at the stadium with some scrimmage work...Tuberville and the offensive coaches had challenged the wide receivers to step up and be more productive at the second scrimmage, but the head coach said he was not pleased with what he saw. Jeris McIntyre has been the most consistent, but we are not making plays." Tuberville said. "Marcel Willis has not done much. Silas Daniels has a broken hand and is catching one-handed. We are not using that as an excuse. Joe Walkins is just erratic. We can't win with our receivers right now. Obviously, we are running the ball and throwing the ball to the tight ends. If we have to do that, we will. If we have to play a lot of freshman, we will do that next year."
Rushing--Chris Butler, 19-79; Ronnie Brown, 18-61; Carnell Williams, 8-39; Casinious Moore, 4-36; Victor Horn, 6-9; Michael Owens, 2-3, 1 TD; Daniel Cobb, 6-(-39); Jason Campbell, 14-(-59).
Passing--Cobb, 18-37-1, 237 yards, 1 TD; Campbell, 15-25-1, 119 yards, 3 TDs.
Receiving--Cooper Wallace, 7-94, 1 TD; Todd Bradford, 2-87, 1 TD; Robert Johnson, 5-39; 1 TD; Chris Butler, 5-28; Silas Daniels, 1-23; Marcel Willis, 2-19; Justin Fetsko, 1-6; Lorenzo Diamond, 2-14; Jeris McIntyre, 2-12; Ronnie Brown, 3-10; Joe Walkins, 1-6; Carnell Williams, 1-3; Michael Owens, 1-2, 1 TD.
Tackles (solos/assists,)--Mark Brown 8-3; Mayo Sowell 7-3; Dontarrious Thomas 6-4; Reggie Torbor 7-0; Junior Rosegreen and Wayne Dickens 5-2; Roshard Gilyard 4-3; Horace Willis and Jake Slaughter 5-1; Rashaud Walker 4-2; Steven Bouldin 3-3; Karlos Dansby 3-2; Donnay Young, Brett Eddins and Lemarcus Rowell 2-2; Travaris Robinson and Spencer Johnson 2-1; Carlos Rogers, Dante Booker and Travis Williams 2-0; Lamel Ages and Roderick Hood 1-1; Dexter Murphy 0-2; Stanford Simmons, Antarrious Williams, Karibi Dede, Ronald Samuel and Jared Nelson 1-0 and Brian Kuhn 0-1.
Tackles For Losses--Reggie Torbor 6-35; Dontarrious Thomas 3-13; Jake Slaughter and Wayne Dickens 3-12; Mark Brown 3-10; Spencer Johnson 2-13; Junior Rosegreen 2-8; Karlos Dansby 2-3; Donnay Young and Steven Bouldin 1-8; Ronald Samuel 1-7; Bret Eddins 1-3; Travaris Robinson 1-1;.
Quarterback Sacks--Reggie Torbor (6), Wayne Dickens (2); Ronald Samuel, Dontarrious Thomas; Spencer Johnson, Mark Brown; Steven Bouldin; Jake Slaughter; Donnay Young and Junior Rosegreen.