Cox: Offense "Definitely Improved"

Starting senior quarterback Brandon Cox gives his assessment of Auburn's second preseason scrimmage.

Auburn, Ala.--In preseason scrimmages, it's the defense's battle to lose and in the second go-around in camp quarterback Brandon Cox says that the offense held its own in a 130-or-so-play scrimmage under the lights at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Friday.

"I wouldn't say the offense won and I wouldn't say the defense won," Cox says. "It was a pretty even scrimmage. We had our highlights and they had their highlights. I guess that's good. Offensively we definitely moved the ball and were a little more physical. We had a running game and a passing game."

"You could tell just in the attitude of the guys after the scrimmage that they had more confidence, and throughout the scrimmage guys were getting excited to be moving the ball, especially on the goal-line series when we got it in in two plays," he adds. "The offensive line was really excited about that and it was good to see them get some confidence.

"We're still two weeks from the game and we're still working. We had a couple of balls on the ground tonight. It was wet, but that's not an excuse. We need to secure the ball a little better and continue to work. We had a lot of good plays and we had some bad plays. We just need to be a little more consistent."

The offensive line started with King Dunlap at left tackle, Tyronne Green at left guard, Jason Bosley at center, Mike Berry at right guard and Antoine Daniels at right tackle. Lee Ziemba split reps at right tackle. Byron Isom also got early work with the ones at guard.

Finding a starting five before the Sept. 1 opener against Kansas State has been one of a few unanswered questions through the first two weeks of camp. Head coach Tommy Tuberville said that line coach Hugh Nall will most likely have his five starters in the next couple of practices.

"For the most part pass protection has been good in the scrimmages... for me," Cox says. "The first team has done a really good job. The first series they were rotating some guys in during the series. I really couldn't keep up with who was in and who was getting the most reps."

Cox says he threw one touchdown and went the entire scrimmage without an interception or a sack.

"Q (Quentin Groves) might have a different answer to that," Cox jokes. "He said he sacked me a couple of times, but they didn't call it. He gets one hand on me and he thinks it's a sack and he starts yelling."

Cox even caught a pass or lateral from Mario Fannin on a busted toss play, but the whistles were blown quickly, especially after Cox blocked Groves on a reverse during the spring and filled him onto the turf.

"I was just standing out there trying to stay out of the way and he turns around and throws it back to me," Cox says of Fannin. "I just took off running. I've got the blue jersey (non-contact) on and since the incident with Q during the spring coach said just stay out of everything. I tossed it and backed off. When everybody ran over there and Mario ran back to my side of the field he threw it to me. I ran up about five yards until they blew the whistle."

Fannin was a quarterback at Lovejoy, Ga., High School. "It was only about a 10-yard pass but he hit me right between the numbers."

Cox says that Robert Dunn and running backs Brad Lester and Ben Tate had a good scrimmage.

As he has done many times this August, Dunn went high into the air to pull down a touchdown from Cox.

"I threw one touchdown to Robert," Cox notes. "It was about 15 or 20 yards, a big third-down conversion. He caught a long one in the two-minute drill in the end of the scrimmage--about 40 or 50 yards.

"(Tate) did a real good job of running in short yard," Cox adds. "Brad came out and had a long touchdown run on our first or second drive. It might have been from 30-40 yards I would say."

According to reports, Blake Field had a good scrimmage. He and Kodi Burns got a lot of working with the second team offense.

"I took all of the reps with the first team," Cox explains. The threes went two series and then the first and second team really had a lot of reps.

"Blake and Kodi rotated out with the twos," he adds. "(Burns) had gone with the threes in the last scrimmage, and he was back there throwing it around. With this scrimmage it was mainly run the ball with the first and second team and throw with the third team. He did good managing the game. He's still learning the signals so it slowed the tempo of the game down a bit. He'll get that and it'll come.

"The third team with Ensminger went out there and threw it around a lot, and (Chris) Slaughter had a few catches.

"We definitely improved," Cox says. "We were a lot more physical. We had a problem the last scrimmage not converting on third and short and fourth and short. For the most part we did that tonight and converted on the goal line, too."

Offensively, Carl Stewart, Montez Billings, Leon Hart and Tristan Davis did not participate because of injuries. Davis is the only one currently not expected to be healthy by the first game.

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