Senior Quarterback Leads Tigers at A-Day

Brandon Cox

Qarterback Brandon Cox led the Blue team (1st team offense/2nd defense) as it defeated the White team (2nd offense/1st defense) 27-7 at A-Day 2007.

Auburn, Ala.--Offensive MVP Brandon Cox threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Blue team to a 27-7 victory over the White team in Auburn's annual A-Day game held at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.

"Today he threw the deep ball well and he moved the offense, got us in the right plays and we've made a lot of progress with Brandon," said Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville.

"If he stays healthy," Tuberville added, "hopefully he'll be one of the better quarterbacks in the country next year."

The first-team offense ran 61 plays against the first-team defense and racked up 406 yards, 313 of which were through the air.

"I'm sure it's easy when you get middle field and cover two, and that's it," defensive coordinator Will Muschamp joked. "We didn't do anything. He's a good player and he does a good job.

"Brandon's an accurate passer and he does a good job with the football," Muschamp added. "He knows where to go with the football, he understands the weakness of the coverage and he's had a good spring."

The No. 2 offense, which alternated between Blake Field, Neil Caudle and Steven Ensminger under center, didn't have near the consistency moving the ball. The White offense had 127 yards through the air and 37 on the ground.

"I was a little bit disappointed in the second group offense," Tuberville noted. "We didn't move it quite as well and we're not making good decisions at quarterback. It's not bad sometimes to throw the ball away. It seems like we tried to force things and turn the ball over. We've got to find a number two quarterback that is going to make a little better decisions.

"I'd like to have a definite number two coming out of next week's practice," he added.

Field, who was 3-10 for 45 yards, played for the White team until the fourth quarter. Ensminger threw 11 times and completed nine of those for 77 yards, but threw an interception. Caudle was just 2-8 for 32 yards and a pick.

"Blake Field is farther along than Neil Caudle or Steven Ensminger, but they have much improved this spring," Tuberville said. "They tend to make a few more mistakes mentally than Field does. I think it's going to be pretty close. Next week we're going to have some team drills here in the stadium and hopefully one of those guys will pull ahead. We're going to make that basically a report card or a final semester grade for our backup quarterbacks."

Sophomore Montez Billings was the leading receiver for the day playing with the Blue. He had four catches for 70 yards and a 19-yard touchdown.

"He's been here two years now, going on his third, and he's going to have to be a factor for us," Tuberville said. "You need six receivers going into the season and we're counting on him to be one of the six. Today he took a step forward and it was the best day he's had since he's been here."


Billings catches a 38-yard pass from Cox on a go route with Eric Brock in coverage.

Cox also threw a TD to Rodgeriqus Smith, who broke a tackle after the catch on a slant for 32-yard score, and one to Danny Perry in the goal-line offense.

Tristan Davis was the leading rusher with 13 carries for 62 yards. Starter Brad Lester carried just three times but had 33 yards, including a 27-yard burst off right end on the first series. Benjamin Tate carried 14 times for 44 yards but sprained his ankle late in the scrimmage.

"The running backs ran hard," Tuberville noted. "I think he was the only guy today that had any significant injury."

The offensive line, which is replacing four starters from last season's 11-2 squad, has come a long way during spring ball and was effective on Saturday. "There were several things we were looking at," Tuberville explained. "Number one was the offensive line and we had more consistency there. The number one offense was able to move the ball a little more consistent. We didn't do a whole lot defensively. We played most of our players but we didn't do a whole lot. It was good to see that we could move the ball and we had consistency."

In Quentin Groves' absense, Michael Goggans was named the defensive MVP of A-Day and was credited with five tackles. Also playing well in the trenches were Mike Blanc (six tackles), Pat Sims (one tackle) and Greg Smith (five tackles, three sacks). Defensive back Zac Etheridge was the leading tackler with nine.

Josh Hebert and Zach Gilbert had interceptions.

"We got good penetration and I thought the pass rush was good," Tuberville said of the defense, which was even more vanilla than the offense on A-Day.

The kicking game left a lot to be desired after the loss of all three specialists from last season. Ross Gornall was 3-4 on extra points and he missed a 42-yard field goal try. Punters Ryan Shoemaker, Joey Dunbar and Dan Caldwell averaged just 37.5 yards per attempt on a windy day.

Statistics

Rushing: Tristan Davis 13-62; Ben Tate 14-44; Mario Fannin 14-42; Lester 3-33; Cox 4-(-4); Caudle 3-(-13); Field 3-(-20); Ensminger 2-(-14).

Passing: Cox 15-25-0, 286 yards, 3 TDs; Ensminger 9-11-1, 77, 0 TD; Field 3-10-0, 45, 0 TD; Caudle 2-8-1, 32 yards, 0 TD.

Receiving: Billings 4-70, 1 TD; McKenzie 2-63; Smith 3-67, 1 TD; Rodriguez 3-54; Tate 5-39; Bennett 2-36; Dunn 1-34; Fannin 3-21; Trott 1-19; Davis 1-13; Olatunji 2-10; Perry 1-4, 1 TD.

Tackles: Etheridge 5-5; Brock 5-3; Stevens 2-5; Hebert 6-0; Blanc 3-3; McFadden 1-5; Evans 2-4; G. Smith 4-1; Trahan 1-4; Goggans 3-2; Chapman 4-0; Harden 3-1; Coleman 1-3; Savage 2-1; Lee 1-2; Gilbert 2-0; Vickers 2-0; Doolittle 1-0; Roseman 1-0; Clayton 1-0; Shrader 1-0; 0-1 Isom; 0-1 Sims; 0-1 Swinton.

Interceptions: Gilbert 1-0; Hebert 1-0.

Sacks: Smith 3-25; Trahan 1-10; Coleman 1-4.

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