Offense Improves In Scrimmage Number Two

The young Auburn Tigers scrimmaged for nearly 10 minutes following Thursday's practice at Freedom High School in Orlando.

Orlando, Fla.--Continuing preparations for the Capital One Bowl against Wisconsin, the Auburn Tigers practiced for nearly two hours on Thursday with the final 20 minutes of the day devoted to a scrimmage featuring young players. Coach Tommy Tuberville says the day was a good one for his team as they begin to close in on game time.

"We got the gameplan in good," Tuberville says. "All we're doing is polishing. We worked on a lot of special teams and had a little scrimmage with the underclassmen. It was a good day. Coach (Terry) Price's defense won again. That's two times in a row against the offense. Coach (Greg) Knox is struggling to get any movement at the line of scrimmage and get any points on the board, but we're going to give them another shot tomorrow with a few more plays.

"They get beat on all the time in practice from the upperclassmen running Wisconsin plays and Wisconsin defenses," he adds. "These guys look forward to going out and running their defenses and their plays. It's tough on some of them because they don't know quite as much as they will in spring ball, but it's good to see them have fun and jump up and down and pull for each other. That's what it's all about."

Quarterback Calvin Booker prepares to hand the ball off to Anthony Campbell.

With the starters and top reserves practicing in shorts and shoulder pads, the Tigers spent the majority of the practice working on all phases of the kicking game and also firming up the plans for Wisconsin. Because of a field that was a little wet because of overnight dew Tuberville says they held out both Timmy Duckworth and Stanley McClover because of strained muscles, but both will be ready to go on Monday.

"We probably won't practice them again until Saturday," Tuberville says. "They already know the gameplan and we've got plenty of practice time. The ground was a little wet and slippery and you're going to have those small muscle strains. Everything is all right."

Once the practice was done for the veterans it was time for the second installment of the battle between Price and Knox. After being dominated in the first scrimmage by the defense, the offense came out much stronger in scrimmage number two and gained nearly 50 yards of total offense before a fumble put a halt to the drive and the day. Knox says this was a big improvement for the young offense after the first scrimmage back in Auburn.

"It's a lot tougher," Knox says of the offense in a scrimmage like this. "The defense, all they do is run to the man with the ball. On offense we've got to have blocking schemes, so it's a little bit tougher on the offense. Today they did a real good job. I'm real happy and pleased with them and proud of them."

Last week Price was very vocal in his post-scrimmage thoughts and apparently that has lasted through Christmas and into Orlando. Talking trash to Knox and the other coaches all week, Knox says that although they didn't score he'll have a little something to talk back at Price before Friday's practice.

"Coach Price talks a lot of trash," Knox says. "But, today we got after their butts a little bit. We took the ball and drove it all the way down the field. We had a turnover there, but it was really a good day for the offense. Some guys made some key plays on third down. It was really a good day for us."

Campbell is pulled down by defensive end Antonio Coleman as linebacker Tray Blackmon goes low to take on the block from Oscar Gonzalez.

While the offense showed some signs of life with Calvin Booker at quarterback, running back Anthony Campbell and tight end Gabe McKenzie all making plays, the star of show again was linebacker Tray Blackmon. Making several tackles, he punctuated the day with another big hit on Campbell near the end of the scrimmage.

"It was totally an effort play," Blackmon says. "The ball went away on the toss and I just kept running until the play was over, playing to the whistle. I got there. I think he saw me coming and it looked like he was ready to bring it. It felt good to get a little contact in. They weren't really running to my side though. I think they kind of knew. I had to run it down and make the big play. It felt pretty good."

The Tigers will visit Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Thursday afternoon and then practice again Friday morning at Freedom High. Kickoff for Monday's game is scheduled for 1 p.m. and can be seen on ABC.

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