Cobb's Stock Improves With A-Day Victory

The White squad, led by quarterback Daniel Cobb, took a 21-17 spring football game victory on Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.--For a second straight year Daniel Cobb stepped up and performed well on A-Day and greatly increased the odds of becoming the starting quarterback in his sixth and final season as a college football player.

Cobb completed 13-25 passes for 182 yards and one touchdown and led the White team to a 21-17 victory over the Blue before a crowd of 33,652 on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. He also turned several scramble situations into positive yardage and generally was more composed in the pocket than sophomore Jason Campbell, who was on the verge of pulling away in the quarterback race earlier in the week.

Campbell completed 10-21 passes for 123 yards and drew the tougher assignment of competing against the number one defense. However, even taking that into consideration, it was not one of his better scrimmages of the spring. "Jason was hurt a bit by people dropping the ball, but still he doesn't set his feet," Coach Tommy Tuberville said. "His footwork is not near what it is going to need to be to compete for the championship in this league. He gets a little bit nervous in the pocket. It hasn't become natural to him what we are doing. I think it has become more natural to Daniel what we are doing. Jason has a lot of work to do this summer."

The best play of the day came from the best player on the offense, sophomore tailback Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, who showed no ill effects from his shoulder injury that sidelined him down the stretch of the 2001 season. Williams raced 38 yards on a play that started as a toss sweep at right end before he cut back across the grain and outraced a fast defense to the flag on the left side of the end zone. That was his eighth and final carry of the day as he finished with 61 rushing yards and one catch for 12 yards in less than a half of action.

"The defense overan the play and I cut back and I had just one man to beat," Williams said. "I feel real comfortable. I am so excited about this season. I feel like I am going to do great and this offense is going to do great."

Carnell Williams on his touchdown run.

"Great" was the word that Don Dunn used to describe the run by the Cadillac. "It is good to see him back out there," said Dunn in admiration of a play that even a defensive line coach had to admit was rather spectacular. "He makes a big difference to our offense when he is on the field."

Dunn could afford to be charitable about the defensive slip-up because looking at the big picture, the defense finished spring drills in excellent shape and is definitely the strength of this team. That group also made it easier on the offense for A-Day by not blitizing and staying fairly vanilla most of the scrimmage, which featured four, 12-minute quarters.

Head coach Tuberville said he was generally pleased with what he saw on Saturday and the entire 15 days of spring drills. The big question going into A-Day was who would emerge as the No. 1 quarterback. Early in the week the coach said he wanted to have a clearcut winner after spring drills. He later amended that two days before the game after Cobb closed the gap on Campbell with a good scrimmage. On Saturday, Cobb probably closed the gap and moved ahead of Campbell.

"Daniel Cobb had a heck of day," Tuberville said. "He threw the ball with authority. He ran around and made plays and was consistent. He threw a couple he would rather have back. We will go back and we will look at everything they did over probably the last seven to 10 days. Coach (offensive coordinator Bob) Petrino) and I will sit down and look and see who we feel like might be the guy going into two-a-days.

"Again, that doesn't make a lot of difference because that could change two or three times once we get into two-a-days, but both of them improved a lot. I was real proud of their leadership. That was one thing we didn't have last year out of the quarterback position. That was because they were both nervous trying to feel their way around. You have got to have a leader at quarterback--somebody to come out and take authority and be more consistent than they were last year."

For much of the spring the quarterbacks have had to get their passes off quickly due to lots of defensive pressure. Tuberville says the offensive line "has a long way to go" and adds, "We have got to get better in that area. Our running backs played better. Overall, it was a good day and a good spring. We are better now than when started, but we still have a long way to go. I think the base is there. They are going to have to do a lot of work on their own and we have got to get some guys healthy."

Silas Daniels makes a touchdown catch.

Backup center Danny Lindsey, who suffered a knee sprain on Thursday, watched from the sidelines on crutches. His injury is expected to take four to six weeks to heal. Tuberville says that the sophomore will probably be moved to guard when two-a-days begin in August. Walk-on Ryan Hockett played center behind Ben Nowland on Saturday and more depth will come from redshirt freshman Steven Ross, who is rehabbing from an injury, and from signee Will Ward, who came in to campus from Prattville to watch the action.

Tuberville predicts Lindsey will have a chance to be a starter at guard. "He is one of our four or five better offensive linemen," the coach said.

Defensively, the head coach says the position changes made with moving Travaris Robinson and Junior Rosegreen from cornerback to safety are no longer experiments. "That has really helped this defense. It has given us some confidence. The guys feel better about what they are doing and they can get other guys lined up. They have got a lot of football knowledge."

Cobb's winning White team scored first with 3:06 left in the first quarter on a one-yard run by Chris Butler. It was the first of Butler's three touchdowns. He scored two for the White team that featured the second offense and first defense as he netted 37 yards on 10 carries. He scored one TD for the Blue squad and carried the ball eight times for 27 yards for the losing side. The White drive covered 38 yards on five plays.

The Blue team tied the contest by moving 44 yards on three plays with 11:13 left in the second quarter. Williams scored on his 38-yard run and Philip Yost, who handled all of the kicking and punting duties (eight punts for 38.0 average) with Damon Duval slightly injured, made all five of his PATs.

Chris Butler scored three touchdowns on Saturday.

The White team regained the lead on an 11-play, 70-yard drive capped by a two-yard Butler run on the next possession. That lead was cut to 14-10 at halftime when Yost nailed a 48-yard field goal to cap a 10-play, 56-yard march.

In the third quarter, Cobb hooked up with Silas Daniels for another score, an eight-yard pass on a crossing route. "I would say I am about 85 percent well," noted Daniels, who is recovering from a hand injury that has required him to wear a cast and a wrap much of the spring. "I should be 100 percent though by the first of the season," he adds.

The only score in the fourth quarter was a Butler one-yard run to cap a seven-play, 70-yard drive. The big play was a Campbell to Cooper Wallace pass that covered 41 yards. Wallace, a redshirt freshman tight end, caught four passes for 77 yards to lead all receivers. Fellow tight end Robert Johnson had four receptions for 64 yards.

Most of the fourth quarter was reserved for the third stringers and walk-ons on a sunny afternoon with temperatures in the 60s and a steady breeze throughout the game.

"We threw the ball and ran the ball better with Daniel at quarterback," Tuberville said.

The Tigers showed a lot more on offense and defense in the Thursday scrimmage, but kept it close to the vest on Saturday in attempt to keep opening night opponent Southern California from getting a good read on the Tigers. Tuberville said the Tigers have installed their full defensive package and all of the offense they will use for the early part of the season. "From now on it will be all repetition until Sept. 2nd. We'll go to California to see what this football team can do."

Game Notes: Kicker/punter Damon Duval and tailback Casinious Moore did not play on Saturday because of hamstring problems...The Tigers did a lot of 11 on 11 scrimmage work in the spring, but Tuberville said that won't happen in August. He said the Tigers will have just one scrimmage before facing Southern Cal...Tuberville praised the running of both quarterbacks as well as tailbacks Williams, Brown and Butler. He said the QBs are going to run the ball more than they did last year...Redshirt freshman Travis Williams was praised for his play by Tuberville. He was the game's leading tackler with eight solo stops, including two for three yards in losses. Redshirt freshman defensive end Steven Bouldin was the second leading tackler with six solo tackles and one assist. He had four tackles for 20 yards in losses and was singled out by defensive coordinator Gene Chizik after the scrimmage for a good performance.

Tiger Ticket Extra: Auburn's prized wide receiver signee class was in attendance at the A-Day Game. The group includes Devin Aromashodu from Miami, Fla., Ben Obomanu from Selma, Montae Pitts from Loachapoka, Lee Guess from Hewitt-Trussville and Courtney Taylor from Carrollton. "These new guys coming in are going to have to be part of our football team next year--the first game," Tuberville said. "We have got to have more speed at the wideout positions. We have got to have people who can catch the ball. I would really be concerned if we were having to bring a quarterback in to play, but receiver is not that hard."

Statistical Leaders

Rushing: Ronnie Brown, 17-87; Carnell Williams, 8-61, 1 TD; Chris Butler, 18-64, 3 TDs.

Passing: Daniel Cobb, 10-21-2, 182, 1 TD; Jason Campbell, 10-21-0, 123.

Receiving: Cooper Wallace, 4-77; Robert Johnson, 4-64; Silas Daniels, 5-51, 1 TD; Jeris McIntyre, 2-31; Carnell Williams, 1-12; Lorenzo Diamond, 2-7.

Tackles (solos/assists): Travis Williams 8-0; Steven Bouldin 6-1; Jared Nelson 6-0; Roshard Gilyard 4-2; Rashaud Walker 5-0; Lemarcus Rowell 4-1; Mayo Sowell 4-0; Lamel Ages 4-0; Dante Booker 2-2; Bret Eddins 3-1; Spencer Johnson 3-0; Donnay Young 2-1; Dontarrious Thomas 2-1; Carlos Rogers 2-1; Junior Rosegreen 1-2; Jay Ratliff 2-0; Wayne Dickens 2-0; Jake Slaughter 2-0; Brian Kuhn 2-0; Dee Durham 2-0; Karibi Dede 2-0; Daniel Cobb 1-1; Gerald Williams 1-1; Ronald Samuel 1-1; Derrick Graves 1-0; Karlos Dansby1-0; Reggie Torbor 1-0; Mark Brown 1-0; Marcel Willis 1-0; Horace Willis 1-0; Hayes Mecure 1-0; Travaris Robinson 0-1.


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