Auburn Football Practice Report; Tommy Tuberville Previews The Arkansas Game

Tommy Tuberville

Oct. 9, 2007

AUBURN - The Auburn football team continued its preparations for Saturday's game at Arkansas, practicing for close to two hours Tuesday morning at the practice fields behind the Athletics Complex.

The Tigers opened with special teams work before moving to individual and group drills. The squad spent much of the practice working against the scout teams and also came together as a team as the first and second teams practiced against each other.

Head coach Tommy Tuberville addressed the media at his weekly press conference following the game, and said that the team is looking to continue to improve and build on its 35-7 victory over Vanderbilt last Saturday that pushed the Tigers' winning streak to three games.

"It was a very good game in terms of the going out in the first half and gaining momentum and keeping it on both sides of the ball, and we played as well as we have in several games," said Tuberville. "We had some good performances, but the thing I liked the most is we played together as a team. Everybody was pulling for each other. They are beginning to understand what everybody needs to do to make this team better."

Auburn (4-2, 2-1 SEC) will visit Arkansas (3-2, 0-2 SEC) Saturday at Razorback Stadium in a game that will kick off at 6:45 p.m. CT and be nationally televised by ESPN. The Tigers were victorious in their last two trips to Fayetteville, but Arkansas won last year's meeting in Jordan-Hare Stadium, 27-10.

Auburn returns to the practice fields Wednesday at 5 p.m. CT.


"Today, we started preparation for the Arkansas Razorbacks. After last week's games, we felt a little bit better in terms of knowing what our guys could and couldn't do. We took a major step forward in terms of consistency. I believe Brandon Cox is feeling a lot more comfortable with the guys around him. I think he is understanding more about what they can and can't do. I think Brad Lester helped out with that. It was a very good game in terms of the going out in the first half and gaining momentum and keeping it on both sides of the ball, and we played as well as we have in several games. We had some good performances, but the thing I liked the most is we played together as a team. Everybody was pulling for each other. They are beginning to understand what everybody needs to do to make this team better. We have much room for improvement. We began the day off with a good practice, one of the better ones we have had all year. We had a lot of enthusiasm. I think winning encourages guys that they are doing better. They are doing better because they are working hard, and they are keeping their consistency. Poise and consistency is what it takes to win on the road. We have to get back to that. Our players need to understand what they are getting into this week.



"Arkansas is a very good team, the number one offensive team in the conference. A couple of their players are about as good as you will see in college football. They use them in a number of ways offensively. It will be a good challenge defensively. We are becoming a very good defense although we still don't have a lot of our guys out on the field. It's one of those things where we need to get as many people back as we can, but we will have to wait and see until Saturday to see what happens. Quentin Groves went about 50 percent today, and Tray Blackmon the same thing. Aairon Savage and Merrill Johnson did not practice. We are still in the situation where we are going to have to depend a lot on our young players.

"I like the way our defense is playing. They are playing very hard. They are playing consistent. They are creating turnovers as we continue to go through the season.

"Our offense is going to be a big key for us as we go on the road. We are going to have to continue to make bigger strides for us to have an opportunity to score enough points to win. We can't continue to depend on our defense for that.

"Our kicking game last week wasn't the best. I wasn't really pleased with our punt team. Our punters at times didn't have the consistency that we need to have. We gave up one big kick return. We are going to have to work on that for the next six weeks.

"Right now, we all know as we sat down with our team on Sunday, we are asking them `Do you understand where we are misfiring? Do you understand where we need to get better? Do you understand the team concept?' We talk about those things every week. I think our team understands that. Sometimes you have to make yourself better before you can make yourself better as a team.

"We have so many younger guys that have had to play. It's more an individual sport than it is a team sport. They are understanding now that you can only be as good as everyone together. It's paid off for us the last few weeks. We have to keep the fire burning. We understand the big challenge ahead.

"Arkansas is a good team. They are well rested. They had a couple of breathers the last couple of weeks. We will get their best effort. It's a night game on the road. It will be a tremendous challenge for the team. I like how they prepared for Florida a couple of weeks ago. I like how they have started to prepare themselves for this Saturday at Fayetteville."

On a second chance for King (Dunlap)...
"His fire is burning a little bit hotter. He knows he has to pick his intensity up. King has a lot of ability and when he hurt his arm, his intensity wasn't there. Coach (Hugh) Nall is looking for a group that will play together plus everybody is going at the same speed. Injuries will keep that from happening. Now that he is healthy, I think he will pick up where he started earlier in the year. He played much better at the beginning of the year."

On the three freshmen on the offensive line...
"I think a lot of the players have picked up their enthusiasm and their intensity and that is what it takes for an offense to be clicking in all areas. Last week was the first time this year that in the first two quarters we were able to throw it and run it with a lot of consistency. We had a 92 yard drive and Brandon (Cox) looked a lot more comfortable moving around in the pocket. He made plays out of the pocket, a big third down and 19 he was able to pull that off. I think that goes back to the original question, the offensive line, everybody having confidence to open up holes, protect the quarterback and pick up blitzes. The things that you need to do for an experienced offensive line. They are not freshmen anymore. They played enough now and been in tough scenarios that everyone has confidence in them in what they can do."

On Arkansas as a critical game...
"We can't stumble many more times and have that opportunity. Last year, we were in good shape physically and mentally and then went out and played one of the worst games other than the Mississippi State game this year. We didn't play well on offense or defense, we didn't tackle, didn't block. Arkansas had a lot to do with it. They played well. They came in and took the momentum, and we never came any where close to taking it back. That's a challenge to hope and work hard enough to make up for last year. Its basically the same team that they had last year. Going to Fayetteville is not an easy thing to do playing. We have discussed it but getting it done on the practice field is the main thing."

On night games on the road and practice the next day...
"It slows the preparation for the next week. We wake them up on Sundays for practice. We do contact. We do a lot of things. Its not just the players, the coaches, we get back at four in the morning and we wake up and grade film and then have a 16 hour day on Sunday. It's a grind. Florida wasn't that bad because it was the first trip. Now that we had that one that took us a few days to get over it and now we are going to turn around and have two more. I think our players like the night games. It's just the travel and get back in bed to only get four hours of sleep. As coaches we have to understand it. We can handle it, but we aren't running around out there. We have to make sure they get physically back by Tuesday's practice. We limit a lot of the things we do on Sunday and Monday to allow them to get their feet under them and get ready for another opponent."

On Darren McFadden...
"He is about as good as I have seen in all my years of coaching. He is very illusive, he is physical, and he can run. He can outrun anybody that we have on our team and most teams in this country. He has that much ability. They are putting him at quarterback. They are putting him in certain positions so that he can get the ball many times. Then they have Felix Jones right there with him. You know they have two running backs that are as good as any we will see. We were prepared to play them last year, and there was a couple of times we never got our hand on him. We were pretty good defensively last year. We have changed some things up, and we have a different plan and hopefully it will be enough. All he needs is a little bit of daylight and you will be chasing him from behind like we did last year."

On Brad Lester...
"I think they all feed off of each other. You will have to visit with Eddie (Gran) on who will start. He works with them everyday. The big thing about running back is the game plan. Which fits the game plan better? Brad is the quicker guy that can make things happen. Ben Tate is an inside guy who is a good pass protector and Mario (Fannin) is a little bit of both of them. That is going to give us a good opportunity to make this team better knowing we can set things around each one of them. With six weeks left, you will see Eddie Gran and Al Borges make sure where all these guys will be put in situations where they can put their best foot forward. It wouldn't make sense to have one game plan that fits one guy and put it in for another. It won't make a difference who starts, all will get their chance to get their turns. He puts us in a good situation. I just wish we would have had this at the beginning of the year."

On Jerraud Powers...
"He is a guy who really understands football. You can take a big guy who is fast, can run, can do everything, but if he doesn't have common sense in terms of how to play the game, how to play cornerback, he would beat them every time. He understands angles, press coverage, playing off. He can look at film and understand what they are trying to do. He is just a smart football player and that makes his 5'9 stature play like 6'1. He is always around the ball. He is physical for his size. He uses his size to his advantage. He never gets rattled. In the Florida game, he put himself in situations where he always had the angle on a bigger, faster receiver. He made a lot of one on one tackles. He just uses his intelligence to make him a heck of a football player."