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SATURDAY, AUGUST 18, 2007
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AU’s offense strikes back
After last week’s woes, the unit gets off the mat

By Ross Dellenger
sports@ decaturdaily.com
· 340-2460

AUBURN — Just six days after a lackluster performance by his offense in the first preseason scrimmage, Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox had a spunk about him as he walked into the university's athletic building Friday night.

The Auburn offense was back.

Last week's scrimmage produced a myriad of problems for the offense — costly penalties, failed conversion attempts, two interceptions, poor run blocking and countless sacks.

But less than a week later on a rainy Friday night in Jordan-Hare Stadium, the Tigers' offense supplied ample competition for its defense in the team's final scrimmage of the preseason.

"I thought the offense caught up with the defense," coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We put the offense a long way from the goal line. They did a good job of moving it."

Cox took all of the snaps with the first string, a change from last week's scrimmage when he played only the first two series. Quarterbacks Blake Field and Kodi Burns shared snaps with the second stringers, while Steve Ensminger played with the third team.

Cox wasn't sacked and said there were no interceptions thrown by any quarterback. Tuberville said there were actually more penalties on the Tigers' defense than on the offense during this scrimmage, a far cry from a week ago.

"We definitely improved," a rain-drenched Cox said Friday. "We were a lot more physical."

The offensive line, which took the brunt of criticism last week, was catching praise Friday night, even from defensive end Quentin Groves.

"I think they opened some holes tonight," he said.

Running back Brad Lester took advantage of that, racing about 30 yards for a touchdown.

Cox did the same. With better pass blocking, the senior quarterback connected with receiver Robert Dunn at least twice, one a 15-yard touchdown.

He also threw to the newest edition of the Auburn receiving crops, Chris Slaughter.

"Slaughter continues to get better. He caught a bunch of passes," Tuberville said.

"He's getting better and better."

Like with many positions on the team, a gaggle of players are battling it out at receiver.

Tuberville said most starting positions will be decided by Tuesday when the scout team is selected and preparation for Kansas State begins.

A starting kicker and punter will be named Saturday, he said.

More highlights from the scrimmage follow:

  • The injury bug has bitten the team fiercely over preseason practice, but Tuberville said no injuries were suffered during the 130-play scrimmage.

    Those possible starters who did not scrimmage because of injury included linebacker Bo Harris, lineman Leon Hart and fullback Carl Stewart. Offensive lineman Tyronne Green returned form injury to scrimmage.

  • Tuberville said the kicking game looked "real good." He said the team kicked about 15 field goals and only "one or two."

  • Tuberville lauded the play of his linebackers and secondary. They met some of the short pass completions with hard hits.

    "The tackling was better open-field wise," he said. "I thought our outside linebackers and our corners really tackled well."

  • Antwoin Daniels and Lee Ziemba continued to rotate at the much-battled-for right tackle position.

    "They'll be alternating most of the year," Tuberville said.

  • Tuberville noted that the team practiced on the new TV timeout rule, which calls for a 15-second play clock, instead of a 25-second clock following TV timeouts.

  • Lightning nearly canceled the scrimmage, but only a light rain fell on the field. Auburn will practice today and is scheduled to take off Monday.

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