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Tigers turn 'D' loose

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Tigers turn 'D' loose

Tuberville generally pleased with scrimmage as defense turns up the heat

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Sports Reporter

AUBURN -- Players perched on the "bubble" had 104 plays to impress Auburn coaches Friday in what could be the last major scrimmage of the preseason.

The closed scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium will be analyzed by coaches, who expect to consider serious depth-chart decisions by Monday, the team's next off day.

"We'll sit down and start going through some things, dividing guys up, seeing who's ready to play and who's not ready," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said.

The scrimmage was closed to the public and the media. Because the practice ran late and position meetings started immediately afterward, no players or assistants were made available for comment.

That left Friday night's commentary up to Tuberville, who said he was generally pleased with the effort and production.

-- Quarterback Brandon Cox had a decent scrimmage, although he misfired on some passes.

"I thought he made some good throws," Tuberville said. "He had a couple that didn't look Brandon Cox-like: overthrown, high balls. You don't usually see any high balls from him. Usually, they're low, if anything."

-- Receiver Rod Smith caught a long touchdown pass, roughly 50 yards, from Cox. Other receivers had a strong scrimmage, with few drops.

-- Running back Kenny Irons got most of his snaps out of the way early, leaving plenty of time for backup Brad Lester, who had a few long runs.

"Brad Lester made some good runs down the sideline," Tuberville said. "We had some big plays from the backs."

-- The defense was totally unleashed, which meant plenty of blitzes. Cox was frequently under pressure, but he did good job of moving out of the pocket and eluding rushers when necessary. Defensive ends Quentin Groves and Marquies Gunn had a couple of sacks.

"We played mostly base last time," Tuberville said. "We turned 'em loose this time and they were making plays. But they gave up some plays. We missed some tackles. I don't let them leave their feet on tackles, so maybe they could have made them."

Tuberville said it was too early to draw any implications from the scrimmage. Coaches spent Friday night breaking down film and grading players.

"We learned a lot of things about some guys," Tuberville said. "We needed the game situations."

Significantly, Tuberville said there were no major injuries in the scrimmage, although several players were nicked up and others were held out as a precaution.

Defensive end Zach Clayton (knee), cornerback Jonathan Wilhite (hand) and running back Tre Smith (jammed neck) all were hurt during the scrimmage.

"I think Wilhite sprained his hand," Tuberville said. "He kept on playing. It was good to see guys go back in. We had some guys get nicked up and then they came back in."

Running back Mario Fannin (hip pointer), offensive lineman Leon Hart (abdomen), cornerback David Irons (hamstring), offensive guard Tyronne Green (flu), linebacker Kevin Sears (ankle) and receiver Courtney Taylor (knee) skipped the scrimmage.

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