Second Scrimmage Features QB Sack-Fest

A detailed report is featured on Saturday's lengthy Auburn football scrimmage.

Auburn, Ala.--At times, Saturday's 146-play scrimmage looked much like last year's Iron Bowl as the defense collected 16 sacks.

While the passing game was inconsistent and the offensive line had trouble with protection, the ground attack was able to pound out 273 yards from tailbacks Tre Smith, Benjamin Tate, Brad Lester and Kenny Irons.

"We had a little bit more success (offensively), but we're throwing the kitchen sink at them on defense," said head coach Tommy Tuberville. "They're getting their licks in, but consistency is how you win on offense. We're not very consistent. We'll make some plays and make a mistake. That's the reason you scrimmage. We have a lot of work to do on offense."

Perhaps the two biggest playmakers on defense for the day were a pair of young ends--Alonzo Horton and Octavius Balkcom. Reserve offensive tackles Antwoin Daniels, Oscar Gonzalez and Andrew McCain had a difficult time containing them as Horton and Balkcom combined for 5.5 sacks.

Also playing well up front defensively were tackle Pat Sims and noseguard Tez Doolittle. Sims had 3.5 tackles for a loss and a pass breakup. Doolittle was credited with one tackle for a loss and also picked off a Blake Field pass on a tipped ball at the line.

"Pat ran out of gas about halfway through," Tuberville says. "We've got to get in a lot better physical shape with him with him missing the last couple of months of the (last) season.

"Tez is probably one of the more improved guys this spring up to this point," he adds. "He's got a lot of room for improvement. We've got a lot of guys inside that have got to get better. Those two guys showed up a little bit today."

Smith was the player of the game on offense with 94 yards rushing, 55 yards receiving on nine catches and 22 yards passing on a reverse pass to Tommy Trott.

"Tre ran the ball well," Tuberville notes. "He's a lot quicker. He looks like he's lost some weight. He's got his quickness back. He's going to push and he wants that starting job back. We're going to have a lot of competition. All of the running backs ran the ball well but we turned it over a couple of times."

All four of the top running backs topped 50 yards. Tate had another good scrimmage and ran the ball tough on his way to 83 yards on 18 carries. Lester netted 56 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown late in the scrimmage in which he outran linebacker Courtney Harden to the corner of the end zone. Irons picked up 53 yards on just 11 attempts.

Older brother David Irons did not play in the scrimmage while taking care of academic work for a project that is due on Monday.

Offensive coordinator Al Borges wanted starting quarterback Brandon Cox to get all of the work with the first team offense, so Field and Calvin Booker got all of the reps with the backup offensive line, which is still a work in progress.

Cox got a bit more action than the reserves as he quarterbacked 16 of the 35 series. Field was in for 11 possessions and Booker for eight.

While Cox was on the field, the offense ran 73 plays for 341 yards. Field, who didn't have his best performance, directed 36 plays for 49 total yards. Booker was in for 34 plays, which produced 121 yards. (These yardage totals include lost and gained penalty yards.)

The only defensive score of the game came from a Jerraud Powers 25-yard interception return. Field dropped back to pass and no one was open against the zone. Instead of throwing the ball away, he made a poor decision to force the ball into coverage Powers had an easy pick for six.

The leading receivers for the day were Tre Smith with nine and Lee Guess with four for 45 yards. Guess caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Cox and could have had another. On a stop-and-go route in the middle of the field, Guess had defender Zach Gilbert beaten deep, but Cox's pass was under-thrown and Gilbert had time to get back and break up the play.

The leading tacklers for the scrimmage were Will Herring with 14, Steve Gandy with 12, including a sack, Tristan Davis with 11, Eric Brock with 10 and Josh Thompson with 10. Gandy got most of the reps with the ones at strong safety early in the scrimmage while Brock ran with the twos. For the second part of the scrimmage they flip-flopped.

A familiar site on Saturday was gang-tackling by the defense.

Brock had one of the bigger hits of the scrimmage while Smith tried to dance around him and cut up field. Instead Brock picked him up and threw him down on his back.

Also playing impressively on defense were starter Quentin Groves and reserves Antonio Coleman and Patrick Trahan.

Besides the tailbacks, another bright spot offensively was the play of redshirt freshman Trott. A tight end with receiver talents, he only had two catches but both were impressive plays.

Trott's first catch was on a pass from Smith that was well under-thrown, which gave Davis a chance to get back and make a play on the ball. However, Trott out-jumped him and snagged the ball out of the air at the three-yard line. His momentum was carrying him out of bounds, but Trott nearly tight-roped the sidelines for the score.

His other catch was a nine-yarder on a crossing route where he used his 6-5, 247-pound frame to shield the defender.

Even though he was impressive catching the ball, Tuberville says Trott is still going through the motions that all young players do.

"Tommy has hit the wall a little bit mentally," Tuberville says. "We're throwing so much at him and he's getting a lot of practice time. He's getting better. He's just one of those redshirt freshmen who is stepping up and learning what spring practice is about."

More than 180 high school football prospects and their families were in attendance for the scrimmage as well as several 2006 signees who will join the team this fall--tight end Michael Goggans, lineman Byron Isom and kicker Ryan Shoemaker.

The Tigers will have two days off before returning to practice on Tuesday.

Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite (24) lines up to cover split end Prechae Rodriguez in Saturday's scrimmage.

Drive chart (Series, quarterback, plays, yards, starting field position to ending field position, end result)

1st series: Cox, 6 plays, 49 yards, -20 to +31, Interception by Davis

2nd series: Field, 8 plays, 34 yards, -20 to +46, N/A

3rd series: Cox, 3 plays, 0 yards, -20 to -20, 4th down

4th series: Cox, 3 plays, -3 yards, -20 to -17, 4th down

5th series: Cox, 8 plays, 35 yards, -20 to +45, 4th down

6th series: Booker, 7 plays, 52 yards, -20 to +28, N/A

7th series: Cox, 8 plays, 60 yards, -40 to end zone, 2-yard touchdown run by Smith

8th series: Field, 3 plays, -1 yard, -20 to -19, 4th down

9th series: Field, 1 play, 0 yards, -20 to -20, Interception by Powers, 25-yard touchdown return

10th series: Field, 3 plays, 0 yards, -20 to -20, 4th down

11th series: Cox, 4 plays, 12 yards, -40 to +48, 4th down

12th series: Cox, 4 plays, -6 yards, -40 to -34, 4th down

13th series: Booker, 3 plays, 3 yards, -40 to -43, 4th down

14th series: Booker, 4 plays, 24 yards, -40 to +36, Halftime

15th series: Cox, 10 plays, 50 yards, 50 to end zone, 5-yard touchdown pass from Cox to Guess

16th series: Field, 3 plays, 11 yards, 50 to +39, Fumble by Smith recovered by Harden

17th series: Field, 2 plays, -1 yards, 50 to -49, Interception by Doolittle

18th series: Field, 3 plays, -11 yards, 50 to -39, 4th down

19th series: Cox, 4 plays, 42 yards, -3 to -45, 4th down

20th series: Booker, 3 plays, 3 yards, -3 to -6, 4th down

21st series: Booker, 3 plays, 3 yards, -3 to -6, 4th down

22nd series: Cox, 5 plays, 33 yards, +40 to +7, 4th down (24-yard field goal by Vaughn good, Kutch good)

23rd series: Cox, 4 plays, 20 yards, +40 to +20, N/A (37-yard field goal by Vaughn good, Kutch good, Clark good) 24th series: Field, 3 plays, 3 yards, +40 to +37, 4th down

25th series: Field, 3 plays, -11 yards, +40 to -49, 4th down

26th series: Field, 3 plays, 15 yards, +40 to +25, N/A (42-yard field goal by Vaughn good, Kutch good, Clark good)

27th series: Cox, 3 plays, -7 yards, -30 to -23, 4th down

28th series: Cox, 5 plays, 26 yards, -30 to +44, 4th down

29th series: Booker, 4 plays, 13 yards, -30 to -43, 4th down

30th series: Booker, 5 plays, 8 yards, -30 to -38, 4th down

31st series: Cox, 1 play, 15 yards, +15 to end zone, 15-yard touchdown run by Smith

32nd series: Field, 4 plays, 10 yards, +15 to +5, Fumble by Lester recovered by Aairon Savage

33rd series: Cox, 3 plays, 0 yards, +15 to +15, 4th down

34th series: Booker, 5 plays, 15 yards, +15 to end zone, 4-yard touchdown run by Lester

35th series: Cox, 5 plays, 15 yards, +15 to end zone, 1-yard touchdown run by Tate


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