On Second Glance, Defense Had Its Moments

Auburn, Ala.--Defensive coordinator David Gibbs says that upon further review, Auburn's second major scrimmage of the preseason wasn't as lopsided in favor of the offense as it initially appeared.

Gibbs, as well as line coaches Don Dunn and Terry Price, expressed their displeasure with how the Tigers performed on defense on Saturday in a scrimmage that featured 31 passing plays and 38 running plays. However, although the tape review showed the defense played better than Gibbs thought on first glance immediately after the scrimmage, that doesn't mean he is satisfied with what he saw.

"We had a bunch of guys giving good effort," the coordinator says. "I will tell you what--they played a lot harder than I thought. We had nine or 10 guys doing the right thing and one or two guys doing the wrong thing every now and then and it cost us. The kids are working hard and they are continuing to get better so we will continue to keep fighting."

David Gibbs is in his first year coaching the Tigers.

Brandon Cox did the most damage to the defense, hitting 13-19 passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns. The Tiger tailbacks and fullbacks netted just 58 yards on 33 carries.

"Although we did stop the running game, we didn't stop much of their passing game," Gibbs says. "That is an area of emphasis for the next week or so and we will just keep working and trying to get better."

The defensive coordinator adds, "We have a long way to go and a lot of things to work on."

After grading the videos of scrimmage two, Al Borges, the offensive coordinator, says he continues to see encouraging signs.

"I thought Cox was very composed," Borges notes. "I thought he threw the ball really well. He has still got some of the little things about his footwork, some things he needs to improve. He is still a long way from a finished product, but I thought he did a nice job.

"I thought our offensive line did an excellent job of pass protecting, which is a lot of help to the quarterback," Borges says. "Our running backs are running the ball really hard. Sometimes there is nothing there and they are running and when it is there, which it is sometimes, they are showing the ability. And obviously, I thought the receivers were the highlight of the day if the truth be told. Our kids made some really nice plays."

Borges gave solid marks to Cox three weeks before what looks like will be his first college start vs. Georgia Tech. Backups Calvin Booker and Blake Field also improved compared to Wednesday's scrimmage, Borges says. "Brandon graded out really well. The other two graded out better. I was encouraged. In some areas they graded out better so they definitely improved. Brandon was around 90 percent, which is what you want to be.

Al Borges is in his second season as AU's offensive coordinator and quarterback coach.

"If you want to play at the next level you have got to consistently be grading 90-plus. Jason Campbell did that and he got picked in the first round, and Brandon was around 90. He is not right where he needs to be just yet, but he is pretty good."

Booker had better numbers than Field did in the scrimmage. He hit 5-8 passes for 55 yards and one touchdown. Field was 2-4 for 15 yards.

"Calvin did a nice job of staying in the pocket," Borges says. "The biggest thing we have got to get with Calvin is that he has got to trust the protection, stand in the pocket and throw the ball and move when he has got to move. I thought (Saturday) he showed some great signs of that."

(More practice notes are on the Tiger Ticket message board.)


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