Trahan's Big Day Highlights Final Scrimmage

Patrick Trahan accounted for three turnovers as the defense again had the upper hand against the offense.

Orlando, Fla.--The final days in pads for the Auburn Tigers was a productive one on Friday as the team practiced for nearly two hours with the third and final scrimmage between the young offense and defense highlighting the activities.

"It was a good day of practice," Tuberville says. "It was the last practice we'll have in any kind of pads, tomorrow we'll wear helmets. It was a fun little scrimmage at the end. Coach (Terry) Price's team won again. Coach (Greg) Knox got shut out. It was a bad performance by coach Knox. We're going to have to evaluate his performance in coaching the last week.

"All of the gameplan is in," he adds. "Timmy Duckworth came back out and practiced today. McClover (Stanley McClover) has just got a little strain. We're just holding him out probably until Sunday for our walk-through, but he will play. Everybody is ready to go."

After putting the finishing touches on the gameplan and working on all phases of the kicking game, the Tigers had their third and final scrimmage with the young players. With Price and Knox squaring off head-to-head once again, the two units both showed improvement with the defense again doing the most damage. Price says there was no doubt who won the day once again.

"After picking the ball off three times and running two fumbles back for touchdowns, without a doubt it was the most dominating defensive performance of the year," Price jokes. "Let's not talk about that (touchdown) right now. They've had three scrimmages and they threw a hail mary fade in the endzone for a touchdown that it looked like he dropped.

"I don't even know if he caught that ball," he adds. "So in three scrimmages they throw a fade for a maybe touchdown. I'll give them that one. Other than that it was three scrimmages and three dominating performances. He's (Knox) crying. He's throwing halfback passes and drawing up plays in the dirt. It was a dominating performance."

A host of Tigers force a fumble by receiver James Swinton.

The scrimmage got off to a rough start for the offense as a run by Anthony Campbell produced a negative gain as Tray Blackmon again delivered the big hit. From there on out it was the Patrick Trahan show as the linebacker first intercepted a pass, then recovered a James Swinton fumble, and finally caused a Campbell fumble for his third turnover of the day.

Offensively the group finally got something going late in the scrimmage as Calvin Booker hit Swinton for a big gain down into the defensive 30-yard line. Two plays later Booker lofted a fade route to Rodgeriqus Smith for a touchdown just over the outstretched arms of defensive back Josh Hebert.

"It was a tough catch," Smith says. "It was a perfect play call. We tried to draw the defense offsides and then Book threw the ball up perfectly. I went up and got the ball. It was a tough catch but I made it.

"I wasn't even planning on scrimmaging and I asked coach Knox if I could," he adds. "At first he thought I was joking around, but later he came up to me and asked if I really wanted to scrimmage. I came in and got dressed and went back out and scrimmaged."

A few plays later though Hebert got his revenge with an interception of a Booker pass to close the scrimmage, but Knox says that he definitely feels like the offense showed a lot of improvement over the three scrimmage days.

"The first day we couldn't even get a first down," he says. "The next day we got five first downs. The next day we got in the endzone. There was improvement every day. The young kids, they had fun and got better each and every scrimmage. It was an enjoyable time for them down here."

Rodgeriqus Smith goes up high for the touchdown grab.

One thing the scrimmages showed is that Auburn's young linebackers are going to be a force in the future. Combining with redshirt freshmen Merrill Johnson, Courtney Harden and true freshman Chris Evans, Blackmon and Trahan form to give the Tigers a lethal combination in the coming years. Trahan says he believes the unit can be one of the best before their done.

"I don't see nobody really running on us because me and Tray are sideline to sideline," Trahan says. "Tray is a hitter and I'm getting better on my hitting. I'll be hitting like him soon. Right now I've got the pass locked down. I think we've got one of the best young linebacker corps in the nation. I think we're going to be good for the next couple of years."

The Tigers will have a short walk-through on Saturday and again on Sunday as they prepare to face Wisconsin on Jan. 2 at 1 p.m. in the Capital One Bowl. The game can be seen nationally on ABC television.

Tiger Ticket Extra:

Wide receiver commitment Alex Rose was on hand to check out Auburn's practice on Friday. The Jacksonville, Fla. native spent much of his time watching the receivers in action from a distance because the coaches aren't allowed to speak with him during the dead period.

Another visitor to the practice was NBA official Phil Robinson. The Opelika native is in town for Friday night's game between the Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves.

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