Young QBs Get Extra Work In Thursday Practice

Auburn, Ala.--The Tigers put on the full pads for a hot and steamy football practice on Thursday in the most demanding session of the preseason this year.

Most of the 2 1/2-hour session involved 11 on 11 work with the first offense matching up vs. the first defense and the second offense vs. the second team defense.

Head coach Tommy Tuberville says he likes what he saw. "It was a good day. Today we let Brandon Cox kind of rest his shoulder. He has been throwing a wet ball and is a little sore. We wanted to look at the younger guys and I thought they did well. They ran the offense well. We are making progress."

Blake Field and Calvin Booker both split time with the first and second teams. Field had a better day passing the football than his fellow redshirt freshman. Cox did get some work with the first unit, but it was very limited.

After grading video of Wednesday's scrimmage, the first of the preseason, quarterback coach and offensive coordinator Al Borges says that neither QB separated themselves from the other on a day in which starter Cox performed well. "No, not really," Borges says. "Their grades were pretty even at the end of the day so today I let them split the one (first team) reps.

"I think something will happen here though," the offensive coordinator adds. "It will probably take a week, or two weeks at most, and somebody will come to the surface."

Blake Field continues to battle Calvin Booker for the back-up job.

Borges says the extra time for the backups to be in the spotlight on Thursday worked out well. "It is invaluable," he says. "Last year, we had a day when Jason Campbell was sick and Brandon Cox took all of the reps with the ones and twos. He took a big step forward that day. I hope this helps."

Defensive coordinator David Gibbs singled out a senior linebacker for more praise after grading video of Wednesday's scrimmage. "Travis Williams is as good a college linebacker as I have been around," he says. "That guy shows up every day, goes to work and makes plays."

Commenting on the defense, Tuberville says, "Defensively, we have got a few guys banged up. We need to get them back. We are still going to push all of the young guys to try to find us a two-deep coming out of Saturday's scrimmage."

Defensive ends Stanley McClover (hamstring) and Marquies Gunn (hamstring) missed the Thursday practice as did tackle/noseguard Tez Doolittle (shoulder, kneecap). On offense, tailback Brad Lester (hamstring) and Courtney Taylor didn't practice nor did center Steven Ross (hip flexor). Center Joe Cope split time on first team with Jonthan Palmer. Cope had his leg severely stretched in Wednesday's scrimmage.

"It was a good practice today," Tuberville adds. "It was hot. We did a little extra running at the end of practice to make a few corrections we needed to make, but the team is coming around."

Commenting on Wednesday's scrimmage, Tuberville says, "It was a good scrimmage. We made a lot of mistakes from quarterback all of the way to center. That is going to happen. The first group looked pretty good on the offensive side of the ball, at times. It was a little sporadic.

"We gave up too many big plays defensively," he adds. "We had some good efforts. We have made some progress in two-a-days. We had a lot of carryover, luckily, from spring practice. We had a good spring, but we have a long way to go."

A pair of freshmen do a one on one drill in Thursday's practice as wideout Robert Dunn jukes cornerback Aairon Savage.

In other news and notes from Thursday's first practice.

*Tuberville had praise for three of the new cornerbacks--juco transfer Jonathan Wilhite and freshmen Aairon Savage and Jerraud Powers. The coach notes that Montae Pitts, a returning starter, is facing tough competition for a starting spot.

*At the other corner, the spot where All-American Carlos Rogers started last year, David Irons is the man to beat. He is making a strong comeback from knee surgery. "David Irons is having a great two-a-days and is getting better every day," the head coach says.

*The Tigers finished the practice with by far their heaviest set of wind sprints this preseason. The coaching staff made the team run extra s;prints as a reminder to hustle at all times during drills.

*A variety of NFL teams had scouts at the practice who were taking notes during the session.

*The Tigers will be back on the field at 4:30 p.m. for their second practice. The team is scheduled to practice just once on Friday morning and will take the afternoon off getting ready for Saturday morning's scrimmage, which is closed to the general public.


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