Offense Makes Comeback at Monday Practice

Auburn, Ala.--The offensive coaching staff wanted to see a more up-tempo and more productive performance from the Auburn offense on Monday and got that in a full pads session that lasted a little bit more than 90 minutes for most of the Tigers.

Defensive line coaches Terry Price and Don Dunn kept their players on the field for an extra half hour of drills after the first practice of the final day of two-a-days workouts for the Tigers.

Offensive coordinator Al Borges said he saw "much more" energy from his players than he did at Sunday's single practice that upset head coach Tommy Tuberville for its lack of intensity.

However, Borges noted that he wants to see more improvement. "We need better tempo," he said. "We are still not moving at the pace we need to get into sync, but in terms of execution and focus it was much better today.

"When we come out and we keep our eye on the ball we are fine," Borges added. "When we come out thinking it is going to come easy, we are not."

A major boost for the offense was the return of starting quarterback Brandon Cox, who was held out on Sunday to rest his arm and to give backup Blake Field work with the ones while giving true freshman Neil Caudle and Steven Ensminger more 11 on 11 work.

Borges said it took Cox a while to get loose, but once he did the junior left-hander looked sharp. Cox hooked up with senior Lee Guess on a long pass over the middle and was effective throwing to junior Prechae Rodriguez, senior tight end Cole Bennett, who caught a deep ball over the middle, and redshirt freshman wideout Montez Billings.

Borges also noted that he liked what he saw from Field. "He is much improved over where he was at this time last season," the offensive coordinator noted.

Commenting on the freshmen QBs, Borges noted both are still in a learning stage and neither one has taken a lead in the competition to be the number three quarterback.

Monday's practice included multiple sessions of 11 on 11 with contact, but no tackling to the ground. After struggling with the passing game in that drill on Sunday, the QBs and the receivers did much better on Monday.

One of the wideouts who had a good day was redshirt sophomore walk-on Rodgeriqus Smith. "He is having a good preseason and he is coming on," said Greg Knox, his position coach. Borges also noted that Smith has caught his eye for good work since the start of preseason drills.

Smith said he is excited about how practice is going. "I feel pretty good about the way things are going," he said. "I think there is a real good opportunity for me. Last year we had three seniors and there really wasn't much room to play. This year they are looking for somebody to step up and I think this is my time."

Rodgeriqus Smith is a 6-2, 184 sophomore from Snellville, Georgia.

Smith noted that the Monday's practice was a major improvement over Sunday's workout. "Yesterday was pretty rough, but today we came out mentally focused and made some plays on offense," he said. "The coaches challenged us a lot and said we had to play better if we want to be a championship team."

In other news and notes from Monday's practice:

*Defensive end Christopher Browder, who was held out of Sunday's practice, was back on the field on Monday.

*Redshirt freshman receiver Billings continues to have a good preseason and worked with the first offense in place of injured senior Courtney Taylor, who was running on the practice field as part of his rehab for a sprained knee ligament.

Blake Field (16) is shown at Monday's practice.

*Backup QB Field had one of his best days throwing the ball in preseason. He hit Robert Dunn perfectly in stride for a 16-yard gain on a deep sideline route and threw a perfect pass over the middle to freshman tailback Ben Tate for a 25-yard gain. He also hit freshman tight end Michael Goggans on an eight-yard pass over the middle and threw a 10-yard TD pass to Dunn.

Robert Dunn makes a catch as linebacker Tray Blackmon (10) and safety Zaccheus Etheridge (28) come in for the tackle.

*Senior linebacker Kevin Sears, who is indefinitely suspended from game action by Tuberville, was hit in the leg by offensive guard Tyronne Green in a half-line drill and and limped off the field. He didn't participate in the rest of the Monday workout.

*Tuberville changed the practice schedule and the 4:30 p.m. session on Monday will be the final one on the intramural fields and the final chance for fans to watch a practice until spring training. The Tigers will go back to the football complex practice fields on Tuesday for a single practice and will take Wednesday off for the first day of fall semester classes.

2006 Inside the Auburn Tigers Auburn Football Guide

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