Wearing shorts and shoulder pads for the second practice on Tuesday night, the Tigers went through the paces for the first hour and a half of work before thinking the day was done when the kicking commenced at the end of practice. They were mistaken though as Tuberville decided to spice up things at the end of the practice by putting the entire team into a circle and having a session of one-on-one or as it was called "man vs. man" by Tuberville.
Calling out one player each from the offensive and defensive lines, Tuberville asked for a best two of three in the contest to see which player could drive the other off the ball. First up were a pair of true freshmen in Jared Cooper and Brent Slusher. Having the distinct size advantage, Cooper pushed Slusher back twice to give the offense the early advantage.
Next up was Lee Ziemba vs. A.J. Greene and it was much of the same as Ziemba, a tackle, easily disposed of defensive end Green and finished him off with a pancake to draw cheers from his offensive teammates.
The third matchup came when Chaz Ramsey took on Bryant Miller. Miller, a redshirt freshman, won the first contest with the true freshman guard with the second called a draw. The redshirt freshman defensive lineman then won the deciding contest to give the defense its first victory.
Tuberville then changed the rules, declaring that the side that won the final bout of the night would have less running. The matchup, redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Andrew McCain against redshirt freshman defensive tackle Mike Blanc.
What looked to be an advantage for the defense quickly turned into something different as the first bout ended in a draw with both players winding up on the ground near the line of scrimmage. Blanc then won the second round, setting up a tense final battle. Showing his toughness, McCain pushed Blanc off the ball and earned a victory for the offense and cheers from his peers on the offensive line.
Other than that, the night was fairly uneventful except for the move of freshman Kyle Coulahan from offensive guard to defensive tackle. Saying that the defense needed some help with Jermarcus Ricks nursing a sore hamstring and Zach Clayton bothered by a sore shoulder, Tuberville and the coaching staff gave Coulahan a look on the defensive side of the ball.
No stranger to defense, Coulahan performed admirably during the workout and showed he may be able to help quicker on defense than on offense where the Tigers are loaded with guard prospects. Tuberville says this is just to give Coulahan a look and he notes that it could be just for a couple of weeks to see how it works out.
The offense had a solid night to finish off things in the red zone after being controlled by the defense in full team drills early in the practice. On the goal line the offense seemed to click as Tristan Davis made several nice runs early before Brandon Cox caught fire. He hit Rod Smith and Robert Dunn on back to back plays for touchdowns before giving way to Blake Field. Field kept up the pressure with a strike to Cole Bennett for a score.
Coach Al Borges watches Neil Caudle take his drop early in Tuesday night's practice.
With the second unit Benjamin Tate had a running touchdown from the six before a Neil Caudle throw to Tim Hawthorne for the final touchdown. The defensive play of the sequence came from Antoine Carter, who stayed at home on a bootleg to sack Caudle. Borges said that the offense and quarterbacks in particular had a solid day on Tuesday.
"Yesterday was probably a little better than today to be honest with you," Borges said. "There is no change in terms of depth. We're really monitoring it closely in terms of decision making and accuracy. There is nothing in the first seven or eight practices other than Cox's numbers that really jump out and say ‘this guy is clearly doing better than the next guy'.
"What we're doing right now is trying to cut Cox back a little bit so we can get the other guys a few more pops without him losing his fine tuning. As I do that they'll get more reps and I think somebody will jump out.
"We don't want to cut too many (of Cox's reps)," he adds. "Instead of giving him six I'm giving him four in the team period and letting the other guys take the other two. As we start getting closer that will change, he'll start taking all the reps again. Once we get into scout teams he takes two/thirds of them. He's not going to lose his edge. I'm not going to let him do that."
The backup job continues to be a battle as all five quarterbacks have been getting reps with the first and second units. That includes true freshman Kodi Burns, who got a long look on the goal line with the second offense. Borges says that the Arkansas native is hanging tough and he's still in the mix at this point.
"I haven't eliminated Kodi Burns yet," Borges says. "I have not eliminated him yet so he's still a possibility. He is (getting better), it's just understanding. There is so much to absorb in such a short amount of time. He's a real bright kid who studies the game. If anybody can pick it up fast he would be the one to do it. If he ever did have to play we would not ask him as much as we ask the other kids to do and we would probably exploit his ability to run the ball a little more."
The Tigers will continue the work on the intramural fields with a full pads practice scheduled for 4:30 Wednesday afternoon. They will have two practices on Thursday and one again on Friday before the first scrimmage of the fall takes place inside Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday morning at 9 a.m. The scrimmage is closed to the public.