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THURSDAY, AUGUST 23, 2007
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Powers shines in Auburn scrimmage

By Ross Dellenger
sports@decaturdaily.com · 340-2462

AUBURN — Starting cornerback Jonathan Wilhite turned his head to look down field after seeing the ball fired from Brandon Cox’s arm.

What he saw is becoming a familiar site around these parts. Wilhite’s fellow cornerback Jerraud Powers was holding the ball and racing down field in the opposite direction.

“I just turned my head, and he had the ball running the other way,” Wilhite said.

Unfortunately for Powers, after he snatched Cox’s pass, the play was blown dead. He was just 20 yards away from returning it for a touchdown during Auburn’s 80-play mock scrimmage Wednesday afternoon.

Surely there will be more chances for the Decatur native to score some points.

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville plans to hold another scrimmage Friday afternoon, and the season opener is only eight days away.

Even with Powers’ interception, Tuberville was impressed with his offense Wednesday.

“I like the tempo of our offense,” he said “It’s getting a lot better.”

The offense seems to be improving more each scrimmage.

Much of that can be attributed to the solidifying of starting roles.

Offensive line coach Hugh Nall found his five lineman earlier in the week. Receivers coach Greg Knox announced his three starters around the same time, and even a backup quarterback has been chosen.

“Blake Field is our backup quarterback right now,” Tuberville said.

Cox, Field and true freshman Kodi Burns were the only three quarterbacks who played in the short scrimmage.

But Tuberville said Burns and Field will compete “all the way through the season.”

The Tigers defensive starters have been known for some time, except for Powers. The Decatur High grad recently took the starting cornerback position from Pat Lee.

“That guy’s always around the ball,” Wilhite said. “He’s what you call a playmaker.”

Defensive end Quentin Groves also raved about Powers’ interception. Groves said the defense communicated better Wednesday and made several sacks and tackles for loss, but he’s still angry that he’s unable to hit the quarterbacks.

“Cox is trying to stray away from me, so I’m going to hit him the next time I see him,” Groves joked.

Running backs were also not allowed to be hit in the scrimmage.

Auburn has been banged up, especially on offense.

At least three possible starters remain on the injured list, including receiver Montez Billings (hamstring), fullback Carl Stewart (hamstring)and guard Leon Hart (ankle).

Tuberville once again raved about the special teams after Wednesday’s scrimmage, which was closed to reporters and the public.

Once considered a weakness coming into preseason practice, the kicking game is now a strength.

Place-kicker Wes Byrum said he went 2-for-2, making an extra point and drilling a 38-yard field goal. Punter Ryan Shoemaker said he had a 47.5 average on two punts in the scrimmage.

“One of the strengths that we’ve been doing the last few days has been the kicking game,” Tuberville said. “We’ve made a lot of improvement in the last three weeks.

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