Offensive players, defensive players and head coach Tommy Tuberville gave the scrimmage that lasted approximately 90 minutes at Jordan-Hare Stadium mixed reviews. The general theme is that the Tigers still have work to do both offensively and defensively to be ready to play a game.
Standouts on offense included tailbacks Ben Tate and Eric Smith. Defensively, Antoine Carter had a terrific day pressuring the quarterbacks. With plays being called dead before full contact on the QBs, it is tough to say for sure how many sacks he would have had, but it would have been somewhere around four or five.
Backup noseguard Jake Ricks had an impressive scrimmage, but the general consensus from the defense is the tackling needs to improve while offensive players note the execution is not ready for prime-time yet with two weeks before the opener vs. Louisiana-Monroe. "
"We have got a lot of little things we need to work on defense," notes senior linebacker Chris Evans, who adds the coaches let the players know they have a "lot to work on."
Senior wide receiver Rod Smith notes the offense needs work, too. "We still have work to do on our execution," he says. "We have two weeks to get ready for our first game and I believe we will be better by then."
Kodi Burns got to open the scrimmage at quarterback as the first offense quickly moved 70 yards with Tate taking a pitch at left end and racing 55 yards for a touchdown.
Late in the first half of the scrimmage, Burns led the offense on a 95-yard scoring drive that featured a 37-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout Rod Smith on a hitch and go route as the secondary blew the coverage. Burns had several chain-moving runs on the drive of approximately 10 plays that featured runs by freshman tailback Smith and Tate.
On the second series, freshman Barrett Trotter was the QB as the second defense forced a three and out vs. the second offense. On a later series, Trotter had a run of 10 yards, something he did well in the first scrimmage a week earlier.
On the third series, Chris Todd was 3-5 passing with the ones, but had a fumble. However, the play was ruled dead by the SEC officials calling the scrimmage. The offense settled for a 47-yard field goal by Wes Byrum. Morgan Hull kicked from the same spot, a normal practice in Auurn's scrimmage, but missed. Hull also missed at PAT kick after the opening touchdown, but bounced back and kicked more successfully later in the scrimmage.
In the second half, Todd led the offense on a 70-yard drive that ended with a touchdown on a 13-yard run by Smith. Todd might have had a TD pass earlier on the drive, but his toss was dropped in the end zone by freshman Darvin Adams, who did not have a good day catching the football. On the TD run, Smith made a move on fellow freshman Drew Cole, who switched from cornerback to safety, to break free for the score that came against a mixture of second and third team defenders.
Late in the second half Todd hooked up with wideout Terrell Zachery on a 65-yard catch and run play to move the ball to near the goal line. After a holding penalty, Todd executed a perfectly thrown fade route to Tim Hawthorne for the score to finish the quick 75-play drive that featured first stringers on both offense and defense.
On each of the first four series, a different quarterback directed the offense. Neil Caudle ran the second offense vs. the second defense on the fourth series. In the second half, Caudle hooked up with walk-on running back Marcus Jemison on a 13-yard pass play to cap a 70-yard drive.
News And Notes:
*Walk-on safety and fifth-year senior Jonathan Vickers has been put on scholarship, Tuberville says. He is running number two at safety and originally joined the team as a quarterback.
*Walk-on punter Clinton Durst, who has been pushing Ryan Shoemaker for the number one spot, didn't help his cause with a shanked punt that traveled just 19 yards. He bounced back later in the scrimmage with back to back punts that traveled more than 50 yards with one that had excellent hang time. Shoemaker had one potentially bad punt that turned out to be okay with an excellent roll.
*One of the closest battles for a starting spot is at weakside linebacker where seniors Merrill Johnson and Chris Evans have been 1A and 1B throughout the preseason. Johnson opened with the ones on Saturday, but Evans made a splash with a big hit on a draw play. Evans notes the defense still needs work. "We missed way too many tackles today," he says.
*Redshirt freshman wide receiver Quindarius Carr got off to a rough start in the scrimmage with two dropped passes. Overall, the receiver from Huntsville has had a positive preseason.
*Tight end Tommy Trott, who offensive coordinator Tony Franklin plans to feature this fall, made two early catches in the scrimmages. "Those were the only catches I had, but the good thing is both went for first downs," he says.
*The Tigers will have a single practice on Sunday and then the players will be off on Monday, the opening day of fall semester classes.
*Noseguard Jermarcus Ricks had a variety of good plays working with the second defense. It was by far his best day of the preseason.
*Freshman cornerback Harry Adams, who was injured early in the week, had a big play just before halftime with an intercepted pass by thrown by Trotter. Tuberville says the cornerback possibly could have scored on the play, but it was whistled dead.
*Senior wideout James Swinton caught a touchdown pass of six yards from Trotter to cap a 37-yard scoring drive late in the scrimmage when there were plenty of reserves on the field.
*Walk-on QB Brent Poole saw some action late in the scrimmage and led the offense on a 66-yard drive that was concluded by 26-yard field goals by Byrum and Hull.