Basic But Not Boring

The offensive play-calling by Tony Franklin was basic, but future of the Auburn offense is as exciting as ever.

Auburn, Ala.—The play calling on both sides of the ball was extremely basic in Auburn's 2008 A-Day, but there was more than enough to be excited about in the Tigers' annual spring scrimmage.

While there was a position change at both coordinator positions in the offseason, the defense isn't all that different from any other Tommy Tuberville unit. However, the offense under Tony Franklin is an extreme change of style, pace and a breath of fresh air for the players and the fans.

Because of injuries to several running backs, Auburn's A-Day scrimmage turned into a passing contest and 16 different players caught passes from four different quarterbacks.

"It's wonderful," says senior receiver Robert Dunn. "It's a great feeling coming out. People aren't getting mad about not getting balls because everybody is making plays. I'm just as excited for the next guy every time he makes a play. We're just all pushing each other."

Dunn had a touchdown reception from both Kodi Burns and Chris Todd. His reception from Burns was a deep post good for 28 yards and a score.

"I looked up and just read coverage and I saw Cover Two," Burns says of the play. "I had Robert Dunn out there. He's a great receiver and he has a great move. As soon as I saw him make his cut I just let loose and I knew he was going to make a play."

Dunn also had a TD reception from Todd and finished the day with five grabs for 69 yards.

Just behind him on the stat sheet was tight end Tommy Trott, who had four catches for 55 yards. He started the game with a 19-yard sliding reception on a post corner from Burns.

"It's exciting," Trott says of his role on the team. "Even if I'm not running down field all that much, just the opportunity to be a check-down guy, just someone over the middle that you've got. It was open today. Over the middle was open the majority of the day, so hopefully that's going to get me some more catches."

Trott and receiver Terrell Zachery are possibly the two most improved players as far as their production this spring.

"That had to do with a lot of offseason work in between the season and here," Trott, who is down almost 15 pounds, says of his spring performance. "We got done with the winter workouts and we're all in good shape. I tried to lose a little weight. I hope it's all going to benefit me and it did this spring. I hope I can keep up the hard work throughout the summer and get ready for next fall."

Zachery (one reception for 13 yards) didn't have many passes thrown his way on A-Day, but has consistently been getting the job done in Franklin's offense this season after being in Tommy Tuberville's doghouse in 2007. He was named "Most Improved Offensive Skill Player" prior to the start of the scrimmage.

"I think I proved a point showing the coaches I can play," Zachery notes. "I just concentrated on working harder and getting stronger. When I get the ball, just try to score. I've still got a long way to go just working on the little things. Coach (Greg) Knox always tells us to work on the small things to get better, and I still think I have a long way to go."

Ben Tate, who has been slowed with a hamstring this spring, played sparingly on Saturday, as did Brad Lester. Mario Fannin, who is sometimes used as a running back, was out of action after having shoulder surgery earlier this month, but Tristan Davis showed some fresh legs in his return to action.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Davis says. "I feel good coming back out there. It's my first scrimmage this whole spring. I felt pretty good. Mentally, I knew all of my assignments. There was probably one step that I messed up with, but it was nothing major. We've stayed watching film and all of that stuff.

"It felt pretty good to get back out there. I haven't been out there all spring. As long as I'm healthy by the time the season rolls around I'll be happy."

While 16 players caught a pass, 12 players were credited with at least one rush, even though Franklin says the offense was about as basic as possible.

"Everything was base," Franklin notes. "They were base and no blitzing. We were base and we were in a two-by-two set the entire day (two receivers on both sides of the line). The good thing is you have to execute. If you can't play in base you can't play in anything. We got a lot out of it."

The play-calling was simple, but exciting and upbeat especially from the receiver positions.

"Everybody is focused on the same goal," Dunn says. "They told us when he (Tony Franklin) first came in to just buy into the offense and everything will work out. Everybody has bought into the offense and we're just working toward the same goal, and that's to get to the national championship."


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