August 22, 2011

Tuberville frustrated with OL

Tommy Tuberville was disappointed by the offense's effort all around during Monday's practice.

He said the squad got about 48 hours off and should have been fresh. That just wasn't the case and he was particularly critical of the suddenly shallow offensive line.

"I don't think we're playing very good on the offensive line," Tuberville said. "We're giving them way too many pressures to our quarterback and they're getting knocked around a little. Offensive line, for the supposed strength of our offense, they're not playing like it. I told them that. We've got to get better in that area."

The offensive line was hit with a two-fold problem last week.

Starting center Justin Keown was injured with a sprained knee, but as a senior he also is considered one of the leaders on offense.

"The whole unit, we have no leadership right now and we've got a couple of seniors that need to be out there leading, pushing," Tuberville said. "We've got a lot of guys that have played on offensive line. That should be an area where we should be much better and we're not even close right now.

"A lot of that has to do with the setback we've had at center but you're going to have injuries. Somebody's got to step up. From coaching on down."

The coaching staff tried setting up starting right guard Deveric Gallington at center and Terry McDaniel at right guard while Keown recovers but that plan didn't work out like they hoped.

Now, McDaniel will be the starting center Sept. 3 against Texas State and Gallington has gone back to right guard.

The truth is Keown is irreplaceable at center and depth at that position just isn't there or anywhere else. The second team offensive line was dominated by the Red Raider defensive line during Saturday's scrimmage and it's clear the team can't afford another injury up front.

There was supposed to be more depth but highly touted freshmen offensive lineman Alfredo Morales is out for the season with a shoulder injury and his twin brother, Tony Morales, is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury of his own.

Offensive coordinator Neal Brown concurred with Tuberville that the starting offensive line needs to be more aggressive but said the starters up front are adequate. He acknowledged the depth and leadership problems though.

Brown said he only trusts six healthy guys in the trenches right now, implying redshirt freshmanBeau Carpenter as the only good option should another lineman get hurt while Keown is out.

"Our (starters) are playing fine," Brown said. "They need to be more aggressive, more aggressive. The standard that we have for them is higher than anybody else just because all of those guys have played a lot of football and they've got to be more aggressive. They've got to be better leaders within our offense… When we've hit a little adversity they haven't stepped up and played like they need to. For us to be as good as we can, they've got to be able to do that. They've got to be leaders.

"We're thin up front, I can beat around the bush about it, but we've got six guys we feel good about and we're going to have to figure out in the next two weeks three guys who we can go to battle with who we feel are backups."

Things at Monday's practice weren't all about gloom and doom. There were a lot of good things happening.

Tuberville said the defense had another good day and he is pleased with their progress. Defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow said cornerback Derrick Mays took a big step forward.

Meanwhile quarterback Seth Doege has officially been named the starter and has looked very good all through fall camp and the receivers had a good scrimmage Saturday.

But less than two weeks from the first game of the season and on a scorching hot practice field, the bad overshadowed the good.

"We're not a good football team right now," Tuberville said. "We've got to worry about making sure we're getting better each day. Today wasn't a good practice, I thought after getting pretty much 48 hours off we'd get a lot more step in our game. Defensively we came to practice but offensively we didn't. We didn't get much better today and we don't have any time to waste."

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