After a hard fought victory like the one the Tigers had Saturday against the Rebels, you could expect to have quite a few players with the minor bumps and bruises that are associated with playing SEC football and that was the case on Sunday as quite a few players were in and out of the training room.
The good news is that wide receiver Deandre Green only has an ankle sprain and should return to practice no later than Wednesday of this week, plenty of time to get him ready for the LSU Tigers this coming weekend. Also back on the field was running back Carnell Williams, who missed the Ole Miss game while nursing an ankle sprain. Still missing from practice though was receiver Marcel Willis and Jeris McIntyre practiced sparingly while mixing in some running on the side, however both should return to practice on Tuesday following the normal day off Monday for the team.
Offensively, the Tigers worked on the basics by running plays to get the kinks out after a solid but unspectacular performance against Ole Miss. Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said they don't really do anything other than go through the motions on a Sunday afternoon and that's good for the team.
"We watch the game with the kids," he said of the previous day's game. "Then I'll pretty much put that to bed. I've watched a little bit of the next opponent and there is maybe a couple of little formations or little changes that we'll want to look at that I'll just introduce today. But, basically it's a day just to get out there and get the soreness out. Let them run around, break a sweat, work on some of our base stuff and then get them out of there."
After watching the video from the Ole Miss game, there were plenty of things for Mazzone to be happy about from an offensive standpoint. From the play of freshman quarterback Jason Campbell to the hard running of backs Casinious Moore and Ronnie Brown there were plenty of positives, but Mazzone said the offensive line provided the key.
"I really thought that the offensive line played hard," he said. "That's as hard as I've seen them play as a group since we've been here. Now, they didn't always go the right places or do the right techniques but as far as them finishing every play and playing hard, we were really happy with that."
On the defensive side of the ball it's pretty much the same philosophy as the coaches put the players through fundamental work for much of the short practice. Tackling and footwork were the points of emphasis as the defensive line and linebackers worked on solid tackling positions while the secondary continued to try to improve their footwork in the passing game and against the run.
The Tigers appear to be fairly healthy on the defensive side of the ball as only a few players appeared to be moving a little slowly on Sunday. Whip/rover Rashaud Walker practiced after playing nearly 30 plays against Ole Miss and is still trying to get back to full speed. His health would be a big boost for the Tigers as his return would likely signal the return of Roderick Hood to cornerback and lessen the load on true freshman Carlos Rogers at that spot.
Following a performance that many say was the best of his Auburn career, free safety Stanford Simmons earned the defensive player of the week from the coaching staff after recording five tackles, an interception and one pass broken up against the Rebels. The junior from Ashland, Ala., finally appears to be living up to the hype that preceded him out of Clay County High School. Now that he's become the leader of the secondary because of the injuries to Walker, Simmons said he looks forward to guiding this young backfield group into the heated battles to follow in 2001.
"There's a lot of pressure on my back and I don't mind that pressure because I have to help these young guys out," he said. "Plus, they have to help me out, too. There's places that they can help me and places I can help them...a lot of times the young corners will come up and ask me questions and I'll know a lot of what they are talking about and what they are asking me just be being around the defense and running the defense for several years. They come and ask me a question when the coaches are not around and that's helped me as a player and as a person."
The Tigers return to practice on Tuesday with what is normally the longest practice day of the week. That is followed by practices on Wednesday and Thursday before the team travels to Baton Rouge on Friday to get ready for their SEC Western Division showdown with the LSU Tigers. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 8 p.m. and will be shown nationally on ESPN2.