It's Back(s) To Business For Auburn Football

A pair of runners were among the standouts in Auburn's first football scrimmage of spring training 2003.

Auburn, Ala.--Just because you are six-foot-four, weigh 263 pounds, and are strong and fast doesn't mean you can't be nervous on the football field. Just ask big Brandon Jacobs, who participated in his first full-scale scrimmage on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

A one-man wrecking crew as a junior college All-American who has been impressive in practice during his short time at Auburn, Jacobs got off to a slow start on Saturday, but picked up momentum as the day progressed. He finished with a scrimmage-high 88 rushing yards on 21 carries.

"I was kind of timid at first because I didn't know what to expect," Jacobs says. "The defense is really good. They were moving around pretty fast out there. As I started getting the ball at little bit more I started getting better at it."

Jacobs says he expected to be a marked man on Saturday. "The defense talked about that all week," he says "I was their main focus all week long. They talked to me saying, ‘We are going to get you, we are going to get you, we are going to welcome you to the SEC, and this and that.' We have probably the best defense in the SEC and not far as far as the nation is concerned. We have a great defense and I felt for my first scrimmage I did OK as far as getting yards. My next one will be better."

Jacobs got his yardage inside and on the corner. He says he really enjoys the heavy work between the tackles. "If I had my choice, I would like for them to hand off to me up the middle and let me go," he says.

Jacobs wasn't the only impressive running back at the situational scripted scrimmage as the team worked on down and distances. Tre Smith had a good day running the football, too. He carried it 21 times for 75 yards and one touchdown. He showed good moves and some power inside, too. The sophomore notes that he has gotten stronger in the offseason. "Every day we are getting better on offense and every day we are looking forward to seeing how much better we can get," he says.

Josh Sullivan is chased by Reggie Torbor (82).

Smith and Jacobs both drew cheers on several occasions for nice runs. Jacobs says he noticed the cheers and Smith also noticed the attention. "It is fun when people are out there watching and when people are out there clapping it boosts our energy level up," Smith says. "We have the best fans in the country and we love it."

Carnell Williams, as expected, didn't run the football as he continues to rehab from surgery last fall. Ronnie Brown handled the first team tailback duties and looked as good as a running back can look in gaining 31 yards on nine carries.

Each of the fullbacks got one carry. Backup Jake Slaughter ran for seven yards and showed real power. Brandon Jacobs got two yards on his run and Jason Campbell netted 19 yards on seven carries. He also completed 9-13 passes for 84 yards and one touchdown and looked good doing it.

Second-string quarterback Josh Sullivan hit 10-15 passes for 185 yards and was picked off by linebacker Travis Williams, who also intercepted a Wesley Hill pass and returned it for a score. Hill completed two of three passes for 14 yards and Brandon Cox hit 2-3 passes for 16 yards.

"I am feeling more comfortable out there on the field because this is my second year in the defense," says Williams, a redshirt sophomore, who is Karlos Dansby's top backup. "I am definitely ahead of where I was last spring."

The first defense looks for instruction at Saturday's scrimmage.

Sullivan says he feels like he is making progress, too, and says he is eager to get back on the practice field next week and work at getting better. "There are plenty of things that I can do to improve," he says.

Head coach Tommy Tuberville says he likes what he saw from the freshman quarterback, who walked on to the team last summer. "Josh did good," he says. "Josh has got a real strong arm and he will get better and better as we go. I think he is going to be a terrific quarterback. He has just got to keep learning and get his mind right and really understand as we add stuff he has got to get better."

Campbell avoided throwing any interceptions, something his position coach, Steve Ensminger, notes was one of the highlights of the scrimmage in his eyes. He says he saw promising signs from all four quarterbacks. "I think they are all making progress," he notes.

Campbell, a redshirt junior this season, says it is nice to be the man going into his first spring practice. "It feels real good having everybody behind you. Your teammates, on both sides of the ball, are counting on you to get the job done. They have great confidence in me and I have great confidence in myself. I want to continue to get better and better each week. I feel pretty good. This is my second year in the offense."

The most impressive receiver on the field was redshirt freshman Courtney Taylor, who caught four passes for 128 yards. "I am making progress, but I still have work to do," he says. "I guess it was pretty good for my first scrimmage."

Anthony Mix at tight end and Silas Daniels each made three catches. Mix gained 32 yards and Daniels 26. Other receivers in the scrimmage included Devin Aromashodu (2-20), Lee Guess (2-17), Ben Obomanu (2-12), Justin Fetsko (1-6)Jeris McIntyre (1-10) and walk-on freshman tight end Rick Pollard, 6-2, 227 from Dalton, Ga., caught one pass for six yards.

Philip Yost was 5-8 on field goals with makes of 39, 33, 37, 29 and 32. He missed form 42 and a 52-yarder into the wind was short. He had a 30-yard blocked as Carlos Rogers came through the middle and the kicker never had a chance. Reggie Torbor, who had a good day at defensive end, picked up the loose football and made a nice return as would be expected from a former high school running back.

The scrimmage produced three short scuffles between offensive and defensive players. Tuberville didn't mind the extracurricular activity. "You want guys to compete," he says. "Usually when a fight starts like that some guy is getting beat up pretty good and he is trying to event his frustrations and fights back. Of course, we don't encourage fighting but we encourage competition. As long as their helmets stay on, there is no chance of anybody getting hurt."

There were no injuries in the practice, which was Auburn's fourth of 15 spring workouts and just the second in full pads. Bo Jackson's nephew, juco transfer Thomas Anderson, started at strong guard where Monreko Crittenden is returning starter. Crittenden has a broken bone in his hand and was held out of action.

"It was a good start to three-and-a-half scrimmage," Tuberville says. "If we keep improving we have a chance to be a pretty good football team."



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