Oct. 23, 2007
The No. 23 Auburn football team continued to prepare for Saturday's home game against Ole Miss with a workout that lasted two hours at the practice fields behind the Athletics Complex. The team practiced under cooler temperatures and cloudy skies, but early morning rain held off during the workout.
The squad opened the practice by working on all aspects of special teams. After individual and group drills, the Tigers did skelly drills and worked against the scout teams before coming together for team drills.
Head coach Tommy Tuberville said during his weekly press conference following practice that although the Tigers are coming off a disappointing loss at LSU last Saturday, he is proud of the effort being put forth this week in practice.
"We had a very physical practice. It was one in which our players understand that they've got to get better," Tuberville said. "We want to get better in all areas, and work to get better. We've got a team that is maturing. A lot of players that have never played before are learning in some tough environments, the good and bad, and we have had both. That's what sports are all about. I'm proud of the team and coaches and how we came back today to prepare for this game."
Auburn (5-3, 3-2 SEC) will host Ole Miss (2-6, 0-5 SEC) Saturday, when the Tigers will look to push their winning streak against the Rebels to four games. The game, which will kick off at 5 p.m. CT at Jordan-Hare Stadium, will be available on pay-per-view.
Pay-per-view will be available in the states of Alabama and Mississippi to cable subscribers and small dish owners who subscribe to DirecTV or Dish Network. Channels will be determined later. Fans should contact their local cable provider or small dish provider to order the game.
Other home dish owners should contact 1-800-TV-STARS to order the game. Commercial establishments should contact their local cable company or dial 1-800-TV-STARS for feed information.
Individual tickets to the Ole Miss game are currently available for $45 apiece. To purchase tickets log on to www.autigertickets.com or call 1-800-AUB-1957.
Auburn returns to the practice fields Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Head Coach Tommy Tuberville's Press Conference Quotes
"It's good to be back on the practice field today. It's hard to get a smile on your face after the performance that we had and the effort that our players gave. We came up a little short, but that's football. That's what it's about in our conference. You've got to play four quarters and if there is any disappointment in the game, you hear if's, and's or but's or what happened in that game. Bottom line is we didn't coach well in the third quarter, and we didn't play well on offense, defense and kicking game in the third quarter. That's been our problem the whole year, consistency playing an entire game. It seems like somewhere we lose some kind of edge or concentration in all phases including myself. It takes us a while to get back on track and when we do we look like a pretty good team then.
"It was really disappointing. I'm proud of the players for coming out and practicing. We had a very physical practice. It was one of which our players understand that they've got to get better. We are not to the point where we want to hear people say, `You're close.' We want to get past that. We want to get better in all areas, and work to get better. We've got a team that is maturing. A lot of players that have never played before are learning in some tough environments, the good and bad, we have had both. Again, that's what sports are all about. I'm proud of the team and coaches and how we came back today to prepare for this game.
"Ole Miss is a team that last week didn't play very well. Their coach, (Ed Orgeron), even came out and said they played flat. One time during the year you are going to have one of those. You hope you are able to work through it. They played a team that the week before had a loss and had something to prove. It was a tough game for them. They are a much better team than that. They played some very good teams and played them very close. They are getting close at times to getting over the edge. They have a very enthusiastic coaching staff that works very hard. I know most of them. I know how they coach, and I know how they take losses. They will come out and put their best foot forward and play very well.
"Another conference game. As I told the team we have four games left and we want to take them one at a time and get better. We want to try and work our way up the ladder and see what happens. Anything can happen, and we know we don't have total control. We do have total control of what we can do in terms of practicing and making this team better, and making this team stronger as we go.
"We'll have a better team in terms of athletes, because we are starting to get a few guys back. Ryan Pugh will practice tomorrow, for the first time. He ran today. It's good to see him getting close to the position he was at before getting hurt at Arkansas, same thing with Merrill Johnson and (Aairon) Savage. We've been beat up a little bit. It's been a long eight games and we have three more before the break. The only thing we can do is keep working hard and getting better and try and get a few guys back.
"It's been a tough, couple of days for everybody. We all look for excuses, but the only excuse that we have is to blame ourself for what happened. We'll work, and we understand why it happened. If we do that, then we'll be a better football team."
On the picked up flag...
"I don't know their procedure on that. It's not a judgment call. It's basically like having 12 men on the field. It's a counting call. You got to count and see were people lined up. I'm sure they will have some discussion over that, in terms of how it was handled. I've not talked to anybody yet. I don't know the situation. I don't know if they think the call was right. It could have been right in terms of what they looked at. It was a call that I disagreed with. I don't think it affected anything we did. We bounced back. We tried harder. Again, when you play good football teams you have to over come those. Everybody has mistakes. We all make mistakes during the game. You just have to go out and overcome them and getter better as the game goes."
On Jerraud Powers...
"He is a hard worker. He is probably the one guy on our football team that understands what we are trying to do in terms of philosophy and game planning. He understands players, and he watches a lot of film. He studies it. He is a mental football player as well as a physical player. He has played well in almost every game that he has played in and continues to get better. He played great in that game the other night. He made some big plays and some big tackles. If we had to go back and do everything the same and he did everything the same on that last play, I wouldn't take anything back. That was great coverage. He hung with the guy he had great position. It was a perfect throw. It's like before with Brandon throwing. Their corner had great position and made a great break on the ball. Brandon threw the ball perfect. You can't cover a perfect pass. They had one and we had one. Again, Jerraud has nothing to hold his head down about, because he has been a big factor in the success that we have had. He will continue to get better, and he will be an all-conference player someday. The players love being around him, because he is a coach on the field."
On Tristan Davis' return...
"He is out of the boot. He is walking. He'll start progression this week, whether it's a jog or a run depending on how much he can handle. He won't play this week. I would think a few more days to see how much he can handle. It's different. If he were a lineman then he could possibly play this week, but he plays with his feet more than anything else. He has speed and quickness and he has to use that. We just want to make sure he is ready to go. The best case scenario our trainers tell us is to be able to go next week, and I think we would be in pretty good shape if he was able to do that."
On Quentin Groves' return and the sack record...
"He is that type of guy. He's not into the records. He talks about it sometimes but we try to focus on what's best for the team and winning games. It's good to have him back. He is a guy that makes a lot of plays. He gives everyone on the defense the idea that a big play could happen, because he is always around the ball. He is still not 100 percent. He is getting better everyday. The other day he would tell you that he was going 100 percent but I would say he was going about 80 percent. He is a tough kid, and he has matured a lot over the years. It hurt him as much as anybody in that game. He was one of the first guys to get up and say something after the loss in terms of trying to remain positive and getting ready to play these next few games. That's what this business is about, being able to watch people's attitude change, grow, mature and become a strong person."
On 2nd half offensive struggles...
"You go back and look at it, it's not just offensive struggles. It could be what we changed at half time or plays called. It's not just the players fault, it's all our faults. We have played well in the third quarter at times this year. A couple times it has really counted in terms of making plays, the Florida game and the LSU game. The two best teams we have played. On the other hand you've got to give them some credit. They are two good teams that are not just going to stand and let you block them. They make changes and they do things different. It's easier to play defense. It's easier to make changes on defense than it is on offense. You have to wait to see what they are doing. I would have been really disappointed if we had decided to take the entire second half off, but we came back. We bounced back and understood what they were doing. Brandon had a great game. You have to give him credit. Brad Lester had a great game. Our offensive line's protection was much better than it was the year before when Brandon took pretty much a beating from virtually the same defensive line that we played the other night. There are some things on the horizon that will make us better. As coaches we can help also, we can change things around. When you go in with a 17-7 lead things are going pretty good, you don't make a lot of adjustments. You don't go in and say listen we are going to change all of this. What you do is you go in and get them ready for the second half, but prepare them for what they will do on the other side of the ball to try and counter that. We just haven't been able to do that in these bigger games."
"Again, it's a chess match. If they come out and make changes, then you make changes. I think in the first three drives in the third quarter, we had maybe one first down, and we gave them the ball. Offensively, we knew and we talked about it at half time. We knew that they were going to come out and open it up on offense. We knew they would run some boots, try to get the quarterback outside and try to run some reverses. We talked about all of that. That's exactly what they did. You can't just look at the offense, you have to look at the defense and what we did. We didn't go out and play nearly as well as we did in the first half. We missed a lot of tackles in the second half. We probably missed as many tackles as we had the last few games combined. Also, that has to do with the people we were playing. We weren't playing `The Sisters of the Poor.' We were playing the most talented team in the country and we played them shoe for shoe. They made us step up. I thought (Early) Doucet made a tremendous addition to what they were trying to do in the second half. We had them third and nine on one of the first drives with four guys covering him and he still made the play. You can't cover it any better than that. You just hope that you fall into one. They are not a good football team, they are a great football team. They are as good as anybody we'll play this year. Sometimes you look at it and blame yourself but you need to give the other team credit for what they did."
On the team's hunger for a win after LSU...
"This team will be ready to play. Ole Miss will be ready to play, as well. This is an SEC game and you can never look at past performances, you always have to worry about the present. We have done a pretty good job of that this year, worrying about what you are going to do today and not what you've done yesterday or what you are going to do tomorrow. This team is on track for that. We played well after the Florida game and I hope we can play well after this one."
On Montez Billings...
"He made big strides. We have been looking for that second receiver that Brandon can have a lot of confidence in. Montez made some great plays but he did it the week before. He is one of those guys that doesn't say a whole lot, he works hard and has done it in practice. We have noticed it, that he has made himself a much better target in practice. He is a big guy. He is tall and rangy. I thought it was a great catch he made on the first touchdown. It was a bit of a busted route in terms of he had to come all of the way across the field. You know keep working with the quarterback. Brandon made a good scramble and looking down field and that shows that Brandon is having more confidence in him."
On Robert Dunn...
"He is back at practice and working hard. He stood up and addressed the team by himself without the coaches telling him. He made a mistake, but this team is not made on one person. They understand that. He understands it now that he didn't have the chance to play in one of college football's biggest game of the year, and he can't get it back. He's got a lot to prove and a lot to do. He has a lot of work ahead with coach (Greg) Knox. I washed my hands of it once he was on the team and back into the fold. He has to prove it to his position coach and to the players."
On coach Tuberville verses Ole Miss..."It has almost been a decade. It will be used and talked about. Their players will be fired up about it. They were probably in elementary school when I was here. You look for anything possible to get motivated. They will be motivated. Their coaches will get them motivated and ready for this game. That's coaching. You get them motivated and ready to play. This will be a game that could change their fortunes around."
On Ed Orgeron at Miami...
"I was one of the guys that helped him get to Miami. I talked Dennis Erikson into hiring him as my defensive line coach when I was the coordinator. He hasn't changed. He loves football. He is like Will Muschamp, who in terms of rah rah and grabbing people. People respond to him as they do Will. Some people don't respond to that. He is highly motivated in terms of recruiting and that's why he was hired. He was the recruiting coordinator at USC. I think he has done a good job in terms of getting players from California, Texas and Mississippi. He has opened it up a bit. All of these jobs are hard. He's had changes in the coaching staff, philosophy on defense and offense. It's been a struggle for him. Ed and I have been friends a long time and we talk about situations in the off season. He knows its winning in this league. They've shown improvement, not in their record, but the players have responded to him and that's signs of a good coach."