Offense Shows Improvement in Practice 12

A detailed report on Auburn's Wednesday practice is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--In a spring training during which the defense has held the upper hand, the offense made progress in Wednesday's practice, the 12th of 15 spring workouts for Tommy Tuberville's Tigers.

The Auburn head coach said he was encouraged by what he watched after the two-hour, full pads practice that included two 11 on 11 sessions matching the first offense vs. the first defense and the second offense vs. the second defense.

"It is good to see our offense is much improved from what we were doing the first few days," Tuberville said. "Hopefully, we will see more improvement this Saturday against the defense."

The Tigers will play their annual A-Day spring game at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium and will have one more practice after that the following Wednesday before wrapping up spring drills.

Tuberville said he hopes to see one of the backup quarterbacks step up and put on a good show on Saturday. "Hopefully, in this scrimmage our backup quarterbacks will do a little better. We are going to script it where they have a chance and maybe play the backup quarterbacks with the first offensive line Saturday."

Tuberville said another area he will be watching closely on Saturday is the rebuilt offensive front where the Tigers are replacing four graduated starters. "The big thing we would like to get out of it is for the offensive line to play a lot more consistently than what we have played. They haven't played very consistently on drives. It will be a game situation where it will be three plays and out if they don't make a first down instead of eight plays or 12 plays and staying out there the entire time."

The starting unit up front features King Dunlap and Andrew McCain at tackles, Leon Hart and Tyronne Green at the guards and Jason Bosley at center. "I think we have improved quite a bit," Tuberville said, noting he believes that is the case with both the first and second team offensive front. "Putting them in a game situation, it is going to be interesting to see how the offensive line improves."

Backup quarterback Neil Caudle reads the defense in Wednesday's practice. He is competing with Blake Field and Steven Ensminger for the No. 2 QB spot behind senior Brandon Cox.

Offensive line coach Hugh Nall kept his group after practice for some extra work as did receivers coach Greg Knox and defensive ends coach Terry Price.

"It was a good physical practice," Tuberville said. "We are going to take tomorrow (Thursday) off and going to get everybody back healthy, hopefully, as much as we can by Friday. We will practice Friday in helmets and shoulder pads. We are going to work a lot on the kicking game Friday getting ready for the game on Saturday. We will put in a few new things on offense and get everybody as healthy as we can."

Defensively, the head coach noted that one of the players who continues to stand out is Mike Blanc, a redshirt freshman tackle from Deerfield Beach, Fla., High School who plays with a lot of intensity.

"I am definitely pleased with how things are going this spring," Blanc said. "I know how important it is for me to establish my position on the team. I am trying to go out there and show Coach Muschamp and Coach Dunn when the season gets here they will be able to depend on me."

Blanc has already made some strides becoming bigger and stronger and he credits strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall and his staff for those gains. "When I first came in to college I was 270," he said. "I have gained a little weight from working out with Coach Yox and eating right. I am 285 now and I need to gain more weight though. I want to get to around 295 to 300 pounds."

Mike Blanc has played well all spring, even with a sore knee.

A player Auburn signed with the potential to play on either side of the ball, Blanc said he is happy where he is at defensive tackle and noseguard. "I am enjoying defense a lot," he points out. "When I came up here, they gave me the choice of whether I wanted to play offense or defense."

In other news:

*Senior first string offensive guard Leon Hart saw some action at center in the 11 on 11 work. It is a position he has played briefly before in practice, but never in a game. "We just wanted to give him some work there because you can never have too many centers," Tuberville said.

*Tickets for the A-Day game are $5 and will be available at the stadium, the coliseum box office and can also be purchased in advance at Auburn area bookstores. AU students with current IDs can enter for no charge.

*Although Thursday is normally a practice day for the Tigers, they plan to take that day off this week and add one more practice after Saturday's A-Day Game in hopes of having more healthy players available for a final look before putting the pads away until August. Tuberville said the practice will be a half scrimmage and is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday at the stadium.

*For the A-Day game, stadium gates will open at 11 a.m. On the west side, Gates 12, 13, and 15 will be open and on the east side Gates 3, 4, 5 and 6 will be open. The upper decks and north end zone will be closed, but the rest of the stadium is open for general seating.

*The A-Day game will feature four 12-minute quarters and it will be televised live by CSS. Replay dates are March 19th at 2:30 p.m., March 21 at 6 p.m. and March 25 at 5 p.m.

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