Oct. 30, 2007
The No. 19 Auburn football team continued to prepare for its Homecoming contest against Tennessee Tech with a spirited practice that lasted less than 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 team spent a large chunk of practice working against the scout teams before the offense and defense came together to work against each other.
During his weekly press conference following the workout, head coach Tommy Tuberville said the Tigers have been cutting back on the time spent on the practice time as the wear and tear from playing every week has been taking its toll. The Tigers will be playing their 10th game in 10 weeks this Saturday and do not have a bye week until after the Georgia game Nov. 10.
"We've started cutting back practice a little bit, getting them on and off the field a little quicker," Tuberville said. "We're trying to get through the month of November with a little bit left in terms of mental and physical ability. This week we're still going to push them through it, working on fundamentals and technique."
Auburn (6-3) will host Tennessee Tech (4-5) in the 81st Homecoming game for the Tigers, who are 67-8-5 all-time in Homecoming games. Auburn, which has won its last 15 Homecoming games by an average margin of 24 points, will be looking to finish the nonconference portion of its schedule with a 3-1 mark. The Tigers have won five of their last six games, while Tennessee Tech enters the game with a four-game losing streak after starting 4-1.
The game will also mark Senior Day, when Auburn's 17 senior football players will be recognized prior to the game. Auburn's senior class include: TE Cole Bennett, SS Eric Brock, QB Brandon Cox, OT King Dunlap, DT Tez Doolittle, DB Zach Gilbert, DE Quentin Groves, DE Brandon Haley, OL Leon Hart, DB Josh Hebert, CB Patrick Lee, H Matthew Motley, RB Danny Perry, WR Prechae Rodriguez, RB Carl Stewart, DT Josh Thompson, and CB Jonathan Wilhite.
Individual tickets to the Tennessee Tech game are currently available for $30 apiece. To purchase tickets log on to www.autigertickets.com or call 1-800-AUB-1957.
Quotes From Tommy Tuberville Press Conference
"We had a good practice today. It was energetic. It was a little cool out there. We've started cutting back practice a little bit - getting them on and off the field a little quicker. We're trying to get through the month of November with a little bit left in terms of mental and physical ability. This week we're still going to push them through it, working on fundamentals and technique.
"This week we're playing Tennessee Tech. They score a lot of points. We're facing the quarterback attack offense. It seems we've faced that a lot this year. They have some good skill players and they run some option plays. There are a few things we're going to have to adjust to.
"Offensively, it will be basically the same type of defense we've seen the last few games - a four-man front. We're not taking this game for granted whatsoever. We want to get better each week. We're looking for hard work in practice and trying to get better on all the little things.
"There is a lot of room for improvement. We are not good enough to beat anybody just by showing up. Our coaches have done a good d job of motivating the players and pushing them hard. We're not cutting back on anything but the time. We'll do the same thing next week before Georgia. It's not that we're playing a 1-AA team. It's that this is the 10th week of the season and our guys are physically and mentally tired.
"We've got to get better on special teams. That's one area we have been disappointed with over the past few weeks. We have a chance to finish really strong. I thought the guys came out and practiced hard. There was a lot of enthusiasm - had a couple fights. We made some changes in terms of position. I think that sometimes creates some extra competitiveness.
"Quentin Groves will play some linebacker this week. Craig Stevens, injury-wise, did not practice today. He will not play. Aairon Savage was back. For a little bit of an injured Eric Brock, it's good to have Aairon back. Merrill Johnson is the same way.
"There are many things that we are trying to accomplish this week. The biggest thing is trying to get some guys out on the field that have not been playing that have had injuries. Ryan Pugh didn't practice today. If he doesn't practice tomorrow, we will hold him out. Brad Lester did not practice today. He should practice tomorrow. We're going into this game full steam. We're going to play hard. We're going to improve and let everything take care of itself."
Is Brad Lester just resting?
"He's had a groin problem most of the year and last week he aggravated it just before halftime. We want to get him as healthy as we can. He should be ready to go by Saturday."
Is Tristan out there this week?
Tristan is out there. He's not hitting anybody. He gets a little better every day. Hopefully by next week we can work him in. He wants to play. We're just taking it day by day with him."
What do you know about Watson Brown?
"I've known Watson and his brother Mac for a long time. We go back to recruiting days back when I first started coaching at Arkansas State. He knows a lot of football. He's trying to get a program started up and back on its feet. I like what they're doing on offense. They're trying to get their skill players involved. They have a couple of guys that can really run and they are trying to take advantage of them.
"Watson and I did a lot of functions while he was a UAB. He's a good football coach. You've got to respect a guy who goes home and tries to help their program out. They are much improved. We watched them on film last year. They are doing a better job on using their talent."
How much of a transition is this for Quentin?
"It's not much. He's played some linebacker but what we were doing was lining him up at defensive end and standing him up and dropped him to play coverage. Now it's just on the other side. He'll be on the tight end. He'll drop from there and play run from there. If it's a running play, he'll be taking the tight end on. I think he's probably better blitzing from standing up than he is down. He's still got a little bit of a limp left. This will help him in terms of not being around as many piles. It will help him on film in terms of being a standup guy because that is probably what he will be doing in the NFL."
Is this a way to keep both Quentin and Antonio Coleman on the field at the same time?
"We're looking for ways to keep them all on the field. Quentin hasn't been 100 percent so we haven't worked on those scenarios. We're going to need everybody out there at the same time. But you also need backups for the other guys. I think by Georgia, he'll be able to play on and off the line."
How has Antonio Coleman evolved over the course of the season?
"He started showing up a lot last spring making plays. He has real great acceleration. He was a basketball player in high school. He has real good hand-eye coordination. He's not that tall, but he is very strong for his size. He changes direction very well. The play he made on the reverse the other day was obvious athletic ability. He leads in sacks for us. Antonio could do what Quentin is doing. He could play linebacker. He's fun to watch."
Is there going to be more of an effort to get Mario Fannin the ball?
"He needs to get in the game. Brad (Lester) has done very well since he's come back. There's only one ball. Ben Tate is playing well, too. Those two have been our one-two punch. Mario does need to carry the ball more. He's fresher now. He was injured when Brad came back. I think that let Mario get his legs back underneath him. He's a good football player. He needs to continue learning the offense. He's not there yet."
Did you work on kickoff coverage today?
"They have a great kickoff return guy. He has returned a couple for touchdowns. We've got to get better. We've been evaluating who needs to be out there. Going into the last part of the season, we've had a lot of starters volunteer to get on, which we'll probably do. Right now, we're still working on the younger guys on how to make tackles on the run and read blocks."
Do you have a different plan for Kodi Burns?
"We've had special points in the game. Last week we wanted to get him in during the first quarter. We'll see how this game goes. If something good happens for us, we'll get him in early. On certain downs and distances, Kodi is really good for us. He's got a couple plays he runs that make him very beneficial. "