In a follow-up from last Saturday's A-Day game that saw the offense get the upper hand with defensive starters such as Quentin Groves and Josh Thompson held out of the game and the Tigers playing straight up, on Wednesday the defense pulled no punches. Despite that fact that a variety of defenders were out of action with minor injuries, they turned it loose against quarterback Brandon Cox and the offense and came up empty.
"Everybody was making excuses for A-Day saying we were going up against a base defense," Cox says. "Quentin and Josh were out, but Coach Tubs said before this for the offense and defense to do whatever they wanted to. They came out and gave us everything they had in the playbook and we still were very productive. It gives us a lot of confidence."
The productivity starts with Cox at quarterback. Back healthy once again after struggling with knee and ankle injuries for the majority of the 2006 season, the senior has been firing on all cylinders in his final spring practice. Wednesday he took things to an even higher level as he completed 14-19 passes for 306 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He had several more passes that should have been caught.
Brandon Cox throws a pass with cornerback Patrick Lee blitzing from the secondary.
When your yards per attempt is that high it means you've been fortunate enough to hit some big plays in the passing game. For Cox and company that is something new. Last season they were unable to get big plays and were forced to drive the length of the field too many times to be a successful offense. Cox says it was fun to have the big play once again.
"That's something we didn't have all year last year," Cox says. "We didn't have hardly any big plays. I had 14 complete passes for 300 yards. That's as big as you can get. Like Coach Borges was saying, we got in sync offensively. We were making big play after big play. Once you can do that it's downhill from there, it's a lot of fun."
It makes it easier to hit big plays in the passing game when the defense has to be concerned with the running game. That was the case in the final scrimmage of spring as Mario Fannin and Tristan Davis carried the load for the Tigers and combined for over 300 yards and six touchdowns on the day.
With Brad Lester missing a portion of the practice because of a class and Benjamin Tate missing the entire practice because of a high ankle sprain, Cox says it shows what kind of weapons they have in the backfield when they didn't miss a beat on Wednesday.
"You see how deep we are at running back," Cox says. "Mario comes in and breaks two runs for 60-something yards. He's going to be something special. You have him and a guy like Tristan to go to, then you've got Ben and Brad, you can give it to any of those guys. They'll make something happen."
Cox and the Auburn offense now head into next week's spring break on a high note after their impressive performances both on Saturday and in Wednesday's final practice. After that it will be time to get back to work as the Tigers will begin training for the 2007 season. Cox says it makes for a fun off season when you finish like the offense did this spring.
"That's as good as we could ask for," Cox says. "I think that's the best scrimmage we've had offensively since I have been here. It's good to end things like we did. It gives us some confidence and momentum heading into summer workouts."