Physical Friday A Good Day, Tuberville Says

With Saturday's scrimmage cancelled, Auburn used Friday's practice to have a mini-scrimmage.

Auburn, Ala.--With inclement weather expected in the Auburn area for Friday night and into Saturday, the Auburn Tigers cancelled the second spring football scrimmage scheduled for Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday morning.

With that in mind, Friday evening's full pad practice turned into a makeshift scrimmage. Coach Tommy Tuberville said with the change in the schedule he felt like his team needed a day like Friday.

"We had a little bit longer practice today than we would have normally had before a scrimmage," Tuberville said. "Since we called the scrimmage off we decided to get a few more plays in. It was a good practice and a good first half of spring. We've got to get some guys back healthy. I think the weekend off will allow that. The next practice will be Tuesday."

With just one scrimmage on video so far with more than half of spring practice gone, the Tigers used Friday's practice as a scrimmage situation with a large portion of the day spent working the offense against the defense. Tuberville said he was pleased with the work they got in and it was needed to help the coaches evaluate certain positions the remainder of the spring.

"We had about 55 plays today of team, which is about half of what the scrimmage would have been," Tuberville said. "We needed to get something on film to be able to evaluate over the weekend to see if we need to make any changes or move anybody up the depth chart. Hopefully, we'll get some running backs by next Tuesday to get some timing worked out with the quarterbacks.

"The defense is getting better," he added. "They played with a lot more aggressiveness the last couple of days. I think it's because we're getting a little more healthy. Plus they're learning how to play against this different tempo in this offense we're running. It was a good first couple of weeks, but we've got a long ways to go."

Safety Michael McNeil works in an explosivenes drill where the defensive back tries to get to the highest point to tip the ball away.

With so much action spent in a scrimmage situation it gave plenty of players a chance to step up and make some plays. Offensively, Kodi Burns continued his solid play with several nice throws and runs on Friday.

Perhaps the player who helped himself the most was wide receiver James Swinton. The speedster made a couple of nice catches and got some praise from offensive coordinator Tony Franklin for his outing.

On defense the standout of the day was junior linebacker Tray Blackmon. Delivering several big hits, Blackmon's presence was felt far and wide on the practice field Friday. The play of the day came from defensive end Antoine Carter as he snared a Neil Caudle attempted middle screen out of mid air.

The Tigers will return to the practice field Tuesday morning and will also practice Thursday before taking time away from campus during the university's spring break week.

Tuberville said that while the coaches would have liked to scrimmage on Saturday, the weather made it an less than desirable day to be on the field. Add in injuries to key players and he said it really made sense in the long run to postpone the scrimmage.

"We need to scrimmage, but we need to get some guys back," Tuberville said. "That will save us a scrimmage. We've still got two left. We'll have to find a time to work them in. The other thing is that we weren't able to get officials in. North of us they're going to get a lot of snow. We couldn't get them in to work the scrimmage and we need that."

The injury list grew a little longer on Friday as Sen'Derrick Marks strained his back lifting weights and it acted up during one-on-one pass rush sessions. Tuberville said it's nothing serious, but the coaches want to make sure he's healthy for next week and ended his practice session early. On a positive note Antonio Coleman was at Friday's practice watching the defense and talking with Coach Terry Price about his duties on each play. He suffered a cervical sprain last Saturday.

Tana Patrick checks out Auburn's practice.

Tiger Ticket Extra: There were several interesting spectators at Friday's practice, including talented junior prospect Tana Patrick from North Jackson High in Stevenson. Patrick is in town with several teammates and will be staying the weekend with good friend and former high school teammate Blake Shrader. Also on hand for the practice were former players Bret Eddins, Cole Cubelic, Wayne Dickens, Patrick Lee and Josh Thompson.

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