By Jay Coulter
Saturday’s double-secret closed scrimmage yielded some impressive performances, but was over-shadowed by several devastating injuries that will have a lasting impact on the season.
Fifth-year senior Tez Doolittle ended his Auburn career when he tore his Achilles tendon. Doolittle was expected to see playing time this season at defensive tackle and noseguard. The Opelika native played in nine games last year. There’s no word on whether he will be eligible for a medical hardship.
Reserve quarterback Neil Caudle was sacked in the end zone by Michael Goggans and suffered what coaches are calling a sprained shoulder. Caudle was in stiff competition to back-up quarterback Brandon Cox.
Speaking of quarterbacks, the talk of the day centered on true freshman Kody Burns, who had a breakout day in Saturday’s scrimmage. Burns has been complaining all week that he hasn’t been able to show his true skills because of the no contact rule for quarterbacks.
During practices this week, the defense only had to tag Burns for the play to stop. Becoming frustrated yesterday, Burns talked the coaches into allowing him to play full-contact and that’s when the magic started.
According to those at practice, Burns stiff-armed one linebacker then shook off two more tackles in making a nice run. Burns, who says he’s a pocket passer, didn’t get the opportunity to stay there much because he was working behind the second and third string offensive lines.
Running back Brad Lester said that Burns reminded him of former Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith. It appears that Blake Field may be in real trouble in his bid to keep the back-up position. The coaches are going to have a tough decision to make at the end of fall practice.
Do you redshirt Burns or do you play him? Many wonder whether or not he’ll be used like Tim Tebow was at Florida last season.
Tommy Tuberville said that overall, the practice was good.
“It was a good scrimmage, but not great,” Tuberville said. “It was a good day to get a lot of guys out there in the stadium and see what they can do and get a little nerves involved.
“It was a good effort. I thought we kind of lost our focus about half-way through and our leaders stepped up. That’s what you look for, is for your leaders to step up. It was a little warm, but it’s supposed to be warm this time of year.”
A good sign was Tuberville’s praise of the kicking game. “I thought the kicking game was much better than I thought it was going to be,” he said. “Our punters did a good job and our field goal kickers are stepping up.”
Tuberville also had praise for the offense and singled out senior wide receiver Prechae Rodriguez.
“The quarterbacks ran the offense pretty well and the running backs ran hard,” Tuberville said. “I thought the receivers played well at times and Prechae Rodriguez made a few good plays.
“We did score a few touchdowns which is better than we did last year in our first scrimmage. I thought the consistency was a little bit better. We started out a little slower on offense and picked it up as the day went along.”