Tigers Have Intense Friday Practice

Despite not being in full pads the Auburn Tigers had a physical Friday practice.

Auburn, Ala.–-The second day of practicing in shoulder pads and helmets brought another level of intensity for the Auburn Tigers on Friday as both the offense and defense had good and bad moments in the two hour practice. Coach Tommy Tuberville said the level of competition was easily noticeable as the players inch closer to putting on the full pads next week.

"It was the first day we've really had any contact," Tuberville said. "There was a lot of intensity and we're going to have to have a lot of that. The individual drills were good, but when we got to team drills obviously we found out we've got a long way to go. It was a lot of little things and as I told the team we've got a lot of team drills in the next two and a half weeks to get ready for the first game three weeks from tomorrow. It's not an individual sport. We've got to play together. A lot of good things happened, but we've got to start putting 11 people together and playing good at one time. Today was a start, but it wasn't a great start."

The position getting the most scrutiny this fall is at quarterback where Brandon Cox is taking over for Jason Campbell as the starter. That means added pressure to perform day in and day out in practice and in games. Tuberville said that while Cox and the other quarterbacks had their moments, the day didn't go as well as he would have liked.

"I watched more of the quarterbacks today and we're real rusty," Tuberville said. "I didn't watch much other than that until we got to team drills. The only thing I saw was a lot of intensity. The defense was playing hard and giving our offense a hard time. That's going to happen for the next three weeks. It's going to make us better because we've got a lot of speed on defense. It was just ragged-looking today."

Running back Carl Stewart tries to turn the ball upfield while Tommy Jackson and Wayne Dickens are in pursuit.

The speed on defense played havoc with the offense during 11-on-11 work as senior Kevin Hobbs picked off two passes during the drills, one of which came on a very athletic move over the top of a receiver. Earlier during 7-on-7 work he also intercepted a pass and was the highlight of the day on defense.

Offensively the work in the passing game was evident as true freshman tight end Andrew McCain had a good day with two touchdown catches during the 7-on-7 session. All the wide receivers had solid days with seniors Devin Aromashodu and Ben Obomanu coming up with several big plays along with Lee Guess. Also converted running back Tristan Davis looked very quick and broke off several nice runs against the third-team defense along with Brad Lester.

Offensive coordinator Al Borges said that overall he thought it was a good day for his unit although the consistency isn't there yet.

"It was a good day," Borges said. "I really liked the competitive level on both sides of the ball. There's not a lot of quality yet and we've got a ways to go, but the competitive level was big. We did some nice things on offense and we did some things that made it look like we've only practiced three days, which you're going to do. For the most part it was a good start."

Reiterating Tuberville's point about working against Auburn's defense every day in practice, Borges was quick to point out that he feels like this offense will improve by leaps and bounds by having the opportunity to practice every day against a unit like that.

"It really helps when you consider that it's about as fast as anybody is going to be," Borges said. "It can hurt a little bit because sometimes there are some pains that go with that, getting passes off and breaking long runs because they're not going to let you do that. To me that's the good news. They force us to be as good as we can be plus when they play somebody else the other team is going to do some punting, which means more opportunities for us. More power to them. Every time they stop us or they do something part of me likes that. A bigger part of me doesn't, but part of me thinks that's pretty good. If we were running through them roughshod I would be pretty worried."

In one-on-one pass rush drills the name of the game was intensity at its fullest as the offense and defense got after it for nearly 15 full minutes. Among the first group players on defense both Tommy Jackson and Stanley McClover looked good with Quentin Groves also getting to the quarterback consistently. McClover beat Marcus McNeill two consecutive plays, which drew a knowing smile from the big senior from Georgia.

Among the reserves making noise was converted defensive tackle Tyronne Green. Now at offensive guard, Green displayed very good footwork and could be a player down the road for coach Hugh Nall. Another offensive lineman that had a good day was center Joe Cope, who continues to battle Steven Ross for the starting job at center.

Defensively among the young guys both Pat Sims and Tez Doolittle had perhaps their best days in an Auburn uniform and drew praise from coach Don Dunn, which didn't happen much all of last season or the spring. At end Antonio Coleman had a good day and showed very good quickness of the ball.

The Tigers will practice at 8:45 Saturday morning on the intramural fields before moving to Fan Dan at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum from 3-5 p.m. Sunday the team will practice at 4:30 p.m., take Monday off and then begin two-a-days on Tuesday with the first full pad practice of the fall.

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