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August 18, 2008

Auburn offense makes statement in scrimmage

Auburn's offense didn't waste any time making a statement in the Tigers' second scrimmage of preseason camp.

On the first series, AU offensive coordinator Tony Franklin called for an option against a defense that was stacked up at the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Kodi Burns broke left, got the defensive end to commit and then pitched it to Ben Tate.

Approximately 65 yards and a few cutbacks later, Tate was in the end zone for the first of several touchdowns for the offense.

"Kodi attacked the d-end just like he was supposed to and pitched me the ball," said Tate. "I went down the sideline and cut back across the field and just outran everybody else.

"It was a nice run. It was a good playcall by Coach Franklin."

Tate's run was one of several big plays for the offense during the early part of the scrimmage. Wide receiver Rod Smith also hauled in a 50-yard touchdown from Burns.

"I was supposed to be on a comeback but Kodi told me to run a stutter-go, so I did that," said Smith. "Kodi laid it on me pretty good and I ended up getting a touchdown."

The scrimmage was off limits to media and the general public, and statistics were not provided. However, coach Tommy Tuberville said they ran approximately 90 offensive plays plus 30 more on special teams.

Freshman wide receiver Philip Pierre-Louis was the first player Tuberville mentioned when talking about the offensive standouts.

"(Pierre-Louis) is not a big target, but the quarterbacks have a lot of confidence in him, and confidence that he can make plays afterwards," said Tuberville. "He's going to be exciting to watch. He'll make you look bad in 1-on-1. It's good we see somebody like that in open field.

"He's going to make a lot of people do tackling drills the next week if he stays healthy."

Tuberville didn't have much praise for the defense other than an interception by cornerback Harry Adams, who is one of three true freshmen vying for playing time at corner.

"He was in a coverage where he had to split the one and two receivers if they're going vertical," said junior cornerback Jerraud Powers. "He had to play them both. I don't know who the quarterback was, he was trying to hit that inside receiver and Harry just jumped on it immediately. That's what you're supposed to do.

"He got the pick and we all got excited. It was good for him."

But overall, the feedback from Auburn's defensive players after the scrimmage was anything but positive.

"We really didn't play good as a unit," said senior linebacker Chris Evans. "It was pretty much missed tackles and some assignment issues.

"They said we had 26 missed tackles in the last scrimmage. I hope we didn't have that many because if we did, we have a lot of running to do tomorrow."

Evans said that 21 practices over the past 17 days without a break have taken their toll.

"I would say the two weeks of training camp really showed today," said Evans. "That's not an excuse, but you could really see it. We need to get back to being tough mentally and physically."

Quick-hitters:

* Tuberville said running backs Brad Lester and Tristan Davis, along with DT Sen'Derrick Marks and WR Mario Fannin, were held out of the scrimmage with minor injuries.

"(Marks) just got some kind of strain. He could have played. He didn't practice yesterday so we held him out," said Tuberville.

*Tuberville said defensive end Jomarcus Savage "banged his shoulder" and was the only player to be injured during the scrimmage.

"He should be back next week the doctor said. It's nothing serious," said Tuberville.

*Tuberville indicated the quarterbacks did "about the same," and didn't reveal when he would name a starter.

"We've got to give you something to talk about the next couple of weeks since we're not fighting anymore," Tuberville joked.

*Walk-on safety Jonathan Vickers was awarded a full scholarship prior to the scrimmage.

"Of course, he was excited and I think the players were as excited as he is in terms of getting a scholarship because they know what these guys go through that are not on scholarship," said Tuberville. "It's pretty tough. We're proud he's with us and he'll play some this year."

*The Tigers are still waiting for final word on the qualification status of running back signee Reggie Hunt. He hopes to have it resolved, one way or the other, today.


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