Tuberville: Scrimmage A "Good Start"

Coach Tommy Tuberville gives his impressions of the first scrimmage of the preseason.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's first football scrimmage of the preseason is in the books and if Tommy Tuberville's comments are an indication of how he really feels about the 2008 Tigers after seven days of practice then it is clear the coach is please.

With several older players held out of action completely or for the majority of the scrimmage, it was a chance for the younger players to make some noise and he said that's exactly what several did.

Tuberville singled out Eric Smith on offense while Adam Herring, Spencer Pybus, Neiko Thorpe plus D'Antoine Hood.

In addition to those names Barrett Trotter also had a solid day from his quarterback position while freshman receiver Phillip Pierre-Louis had a big play in the passing game. Overall, Tuberville said he liked what he saw, but one thing he noticed was his team needs to be in even better shape to play at the tempo he saw on Saturday.

"It was a good start," Tuberville said. "We needed some kind of measuring point where we were at on both sides and even in the kicking game. When you scrimmage for the first time normally you don't do that much on either side of the ball, you just look for execution. We've got a lot in on both sides so we ran it today.

"There were some good and bad. Probably the thing I'm the most disappointed in is we ran out of gas about 75 plays in. We probably ran around 100 plays. We lost our concentration and had a few more penalties than we hoped. We didn't hold anything back on either side."

Offensively, quarterbacks Kodi Burns and Chris Todd got a long look and Tuberville said both threw the ball well. While that battle is something everyone is watching closely, he noted that he's looking for more playmakers on offense and was pleased that he saw some of that both in the running and passing game on Saturday.

"The quarterbacks looked pretty sharp considering it was the first time in the stadium throwing the ball around," Tuberville said. "We ran it about half the time and threw it about half the time. There were some big plays. I thought we caught the ball well. The biggest thing is that we ran the ball well after we caught it. That's something we're really working hard on is making yards after the catch.

Junior tailback Ben Tate scores in the scrimmage.

"We had some good runs," Tuberville added. "We had one called back. Pierre caught about an 80-yard touchdown pass, but we had too many receivers on the line of scrimmage. Eric Smith made some big running plays. It was mostly the younger guys that made plays, some of the newer guys out there for the first time."

Eric Smith is one of the young guys that caught Tuberville's eye on Saturday.

On the other side of the ball it was a day for the young guys to shine. With Tray Blackmon held out of the scrimmage to let some of the younger linebackers see action, it was a pair of freshmen who stole the show. Tuberville said he wanted to see how the guys responded to being in the spotlight on Saturday and he got his first answer.

"The two guys that I saw at linebacker that I was impressed with was Adam Herring, who made some good plays, and Spencer Pybus," Tuberville said. "They are both young players. Adam being here one year and Spencer here only a few weeks. Those two guys are going to have to play for us down the road. I thought they really did well and we played them against the first team offense some. They held their own fairly well."

In the secondary it was a major opportunity for the freshmen to separate themselves and make a move towards playing for the Tigers this season. With the loss of Aairon Savage for the year and starters Jerraud Powers and Walter McFadden getting limited work, the bulk of the action went to young players and Tuberville said they held up well.

"I thought our corners did good tackling once they caught the ball," Tuberville said. "There are going to be times when the ball is caught in this offense. You've just got to make sure that you don't get yards after the catch.

"I thought the young corners Neiko Thorpe and D'Antoine Hood did a good job of tackling. We did play Powers and McFadden some and they looked good. We wanted to put the pressure on the younger guys that are obviously going to have to play because of injury."

Every year at this time Tuberville will say that it's always best for the defense to be ahead of the offense in the first scrimmage. With new coordinators on both sides of the ball and an offense that is designed to make plays in bunches, Tuberville said this year it may be the offense's turn to get a fast start.

"I thought the offense did better than we have in the past, but again we've probably got more in," Tuberville said. "You say more in, you do fewer things in this offense out of a wider group of formations. It really gives you an opportunity to get mismatches and cause problems for the defense.

"If you're looking for an advantage I would say the offense has game planned the defense better because the defense is not game planning them, they are trying to play fundamentals and techniques. There was some good on both sides, but there has to be a lot of improvement in the next seven or eight days."

The Tigers will return to the practice field on Sunday afternoon to continue preseason practice. The next scrimmage is set for either Friday night or Saturday, according to Tuberville, and they'll make a final decision as the week progresses.

The Tigers will return to practice at 4:15 p.m. on Sunday at the intramural field. That practice is open to the public.

Tiger Ticket Extra: On the injury front the Tigers held out Jason Bosley because of a twisted back, but Tuberville said they're hoping to get him back this week. Offensive tackle Lee Ziemba scrimmaged and Tuberville said his bruised knee held up well. Freshman safety Marcus Jemison will head to Birmingham for an evaluation on his leg after injuring it in Friday's practice.


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