Auburn, Ala.--Looking good at times and sloppy at others, it was an overall positive performance by the offense in the second scrimmage of spring training.
Giving up 16 sacks is certainly a statistic that jumps out, but the offense moved the ball well, especially compared to the previous Saturday’s scrimmage.
“This game was a little more about mix--run, pass and do a little bit of both,” says offensive coordinator Al Borges, who called mostly run plays a week ago. “For the most part we accomplished that. We were rough around the edges, particularly the second unit because we have a lot of guys who just haven’t played offensive line. I think it was productive.”
Starting quarterback Brandon Cox had a decent day throwing the football with 19 completions on 30 attempts for 161 yards and a touchdown. He got more reps than backups Blake Field and Calvin Booker.
“He did okay,” Borges says of Cox. “He threw one bad ball early. I think Carl (Carl Stewart) was open in the middle and it popped up in the air and was intercepted (by Tristan Davis). He seemed to be pretty composed. He handled the line of scrimmage pretty well. He was okay--nothing spectacular, nothing bad.”
Brandon Cox prepares to throw the football as tailback Brad Lester (1) and wide receiver Prechae Rodriguez (15) run pass routes.
Cox got 73 snaps, exactly half of the 146 total. During those plays the offense moved the ball for 341 yards. When Field was on the field, the offense really struggled to move the ball, gaining just 49 yards on his 36 snaps, which includes penalty yardage. Some of the miscues were Field’s fault, but many weren’t as the second team offensive line, particularly the tackles, had a rough day dealing with the quick defensive ends.
The offense moved the ball better with Booker under center, gaining 121 yards on 34 plays.
“A lot of this is result of everyone on the second offense being so dog-gone inexperienced, including the quarterbacks,” Borges says. “Today I didn’t put them with the ones at all because I wanted to get more pass game reps with Cox under center.
“Maybe we’ll put them with the ones so they can get a better look and better pass protection in scrimmages. Right now we’re still taking the same approach.”
Field completed six of 14 passes for 53 yards with two interceptions. Booker completed four of 10 for 61 yards with no picks.
There were no significant injuries in the scrimmage, according to head coach Tommy Tuberville, which is good news after losing the only scholarship fullback, Michael McLaughlin, to an ACL tear in last Saturday’s scrimmage. Borges notes that the offense is still looking for ways to be productive without a proven fullback, but tight end Tommy Trott could be an answer.
“We’ve got to find a way to supplement that,” Borges says. “Tommy Trott is getting a lot of reps. We’re using our second tailback in Tre (Tre Smith). Carl (Stewart) did a little bit at the beginning, but he got hurt again so we had to back off that. That’s basically how we’re looking at it.”
Walk-on Andrew Turman got the start at fullback as the offense took its first snap from the I-formation.
Other than a few reverses, which is normal play calling for Borges, the only trick play of the day was a success. With the safeties creeping up to the line, Borges was able to back them off for a while on a halfback pass from Smith to Trott. The ball was under-thrown, but Trott was able to make a play on the ball and come down with it.
“That’s always in our plan,” Borges says of the toss sweep that turns into a pass. “I call it once in a while just to keep the safeties from down on the pitch. Sometimes it hits and sometimes it doesn’t, but it accomplishes the goal.”
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