Tigers Gear Up For Second Scrimmage

Auburn practiced for the second time on Thursday as the Tigers get ready for Saturday's second scrimmage of the fall.

Auburn, Ala.–-Following a long and physically draining morning practice, the Auburn Tigers practiced for just under two hours in shorts and shoulder pads Thursday afternoon in what Coach Tommy Tuberville described as a day of learning.

"Today we had a mental practice," Tuberville said. "This morning was a good grind and we had to let up. We worked on situational two-minute, goal line, short yardage and a couple of blitzes that we hadn't put in on defense. We've just about got everything we're going to run in the first couple of games in, we just have to start polishing. We'll start that in the morning. We're going to have a pretty tough practice in the morning. We've only got one-a-days for the next three days. Tomorrow will be a good one."

Thursday afternoon's practice was a good time for the coaches to rest starting quarterback Brandon Cox. Throwing a great deal the past week and several days with a rain-soaked football, Tuberville said that he needed some time off but will be back in action on Friday morning. Thursday he practiced, but did not throw.

"Brandon starts back in the morning," Tuberville said. "We wanted to give him a day off. He did all the running and the mental stuff. The two-minute offense he's run before so we needed to get these young guys involved. He'll be ready to go in the morning unless it rains. I'm not going to let him throw any more wet balls. He just throws too many balls to throw something that weighs a few more pounds than it normally does."

Center Steven Ross was back practicing and should be ready next week.

The practice and subsequent scrimmage on Saturday will continue the help sort out the battle between Blake Field and Calvin Booker for the back-up quarterback job. While both have been up and down the last few practices, Tuberville said that consistency is what he's looking for out of one before he wins the job but he's fine keeping it a battle if both are improving.

"It's really not that important when you have two that are about the same," Tuberville said of deciding on a number two. "We can have one one week and one the next, there's not a lot of difference. Obviously if one separates himself it's going to be important to make that decision. As long as they stay as close as they are then we won't a clear-cut decision until seven days in advance, maybe Monday going into the game that week."

One of the players the Tigers are counting on for leadership this fall on offense is tight end Cooper Wallace. Having a strong preseason along with fellow veteran Cole Bennett, Wallace said that he likes what he's seen so far out of the offense during two-a-days.

"I think it's coming along good," Wallace said of the offense. "Cox looks good. He's been resting his shoulder a bit and Calvin has come in and gotten a lot better in just two days. I think we're ahead of where most people think we are. We're working hard on the blitz because we know that's going to come strong this year with a new quarterback.

"I think we're coming along good. Coach Borges said if we run 10 plays against our defense we should get six or seven of them the way we want. We've been doing that so it's looking good right now. We've still got to grow, but we're in a good spot right now."

For the first time since Wallace has been at Auburn the cupboard is not bare at tight end. The last few seasons Wallace has been the mainstay while guys such as Ben Grubbs and Steven Ross have been used in situations for the offense at tight end. That won't be necessary this year with a large group of talented freshmen to help the work load. Wallace said he's been very surprised at how far along the group of Tommy Trott, Gabe McKenzie and Andrew McCain is just over a week into their first fall.

"I think they're spectacular," Wallace said of the freshmen. "Since I have been here this is the first big recruiting class we've had. They're helping me and Cole out a bunch. We're able to split the ones almost right down the middle, which is saving both of us and giving us both more energy. I think Tommy runs real well and catches the ball well. Gabe is just an overall big athlete that can come off the ball and Andrew is just a big kid. I think in the next couple of years we'll have some of the best tight ends around."

The Tigers are scheduled to practice just once on Friday morning at 9:45 in preparation for Saturday's second scrimmage of the fall. The scrimmage is scheduled to be held in the stadium beginning at 10 a.m. and closed to the public. If there is rain the scrimmage will move the intramural fields.

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