Tuberville Talks About The Tigers

Coach Tommy Tuberville discusses his team and the thoughts on the upcoming season.

Hoover, Ala.--Coach Tommy Tuberville took the spotlight in Thursday's final day of SEC Media Days and said that he feels like the Tigers will be in good shape when they report to campus this week for the beginning of fall practices. With a large group of newcomers expected in on Monday, he said despite a few question marks they are waiting on a full group of 25 to report.

Although both have been on campus this summer, Stanley McClover and Montavian Collier are waiting on the NCAA Clearinghouse to give them a final okay. Tuberville said both should be fine and nothing has been indicated otherwise. The same is true of defensive back David Irons Jr., who is taking classes at Southern Union Junior College this summer to finish up his graduation.

"David Irons has to graduate from junior college," Tuberville said. "We won't know that until probably about the 10th or 15th of August. That's still up in the air."

Because of that, Tuberville said Junior Rosegreen will likely start the fall at cornerback to shore up some depth problems at the position. With USC coming into Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first game on Aug. 30, he said it also gives the team a physical and experienced player to match up with probably the best receiving corps the Tigers will see this season.

While he will miss some important practice time, Irons shouldn't be very far behind when he gets the nod to begin practicing with the Tigers. Playing cornerback, his learning curve isn't as steep as for most other positions on the football field. Tuberville said that will allow him to get into the playing rotation almost immediately if he can get the job done on the field.

One of the signees that won't be at practice early, but has qualified, is Tez Doolittle from Opelika. After going through two surgeries this summer, the second of which was just three weeks ago on his shoulder, Doolittle likely won't be cleared until October. That leaves him with an important decision to make in the coming weeks.

"We're going over all the scenarios on whether to start him now or wait until January," Tuberville said. "I would rather start him now, but we're going to let him and his family make that decision. The biggest thing is that he's going to have to rehab for the next few months and get ready for January.

"We're in agreement that he needs to take some kind of classes," Tuberville added. "We'll probably know in the next eight to 10 days what he's going to do. We've laid it all out for his mom and him and we'll just let him make the decision on when he wants to start his clock. But, he won't play this fall. He could possibly practice, but he will not play."

The Tigers have also had some defections from the team since spring practice. Offensive lineman Ryan Broome has been granted a medical hardship because of back problems and will likely graduate before next spring. Safety Cavari Dailey, concerned about a possible lack of playing time this fall, has left the team and will transfer to a school in the midwest.

Those losses, along with linebacker Lemarcus Rowell, who will attend a junior college for the next year, leave the Tigers a little short in total numbers this fall. Even though Rowell could eventually return to the team after he's evaluated following his stay in junior college, Tuberville said his team will be short of the 85 allowed scholarships this coming fall.

"Overall it's going to be around 78 or 79," Tuberville said. "We're still not there, I don't think anybody is. Normally you're going to be around 80. It's probably the most that we've had. We would like to be a little bit closer to 85, but that's just the way it is. This will give us the opportunity to bring some more guys in (in January). You never want to be at 85 when you start August, then you can forget about mid-year transfers because you can't bring anybody in."

A change this fall is the practice schedule for teams during two-a-days with freshmen not having any practices before the upperclassmen report. While the other changes in that won't affect Auburn too much because they rarely went two full pad practices back-to-back anyway, Tuberville said the other changes will leave his team and others behind in the race to play young players this season and in seasons to come.

"The first five days have been very confusing," Tuberville said. "You have three hours to practice and there is no walk-throughs. You can have meetings, obviously we'll get as much academic as we can. We'll have long meetings and what we're going to do is practice two hours and release a lot of the players. We'll keep the other players out for a special teams workout."

Trying to get a head start on some of the work needed for the season, Tuberville said Coach Eddie Gran would utilize the first five days to find the right combinations on all of the special teams. That will be done following the first two hours of practice before Auburn can go to full pad workouts.

Following the first five days of practice, which must be only one practice for a maximum of three hours per day, the Tigers will have two practices on every other day with one practice on the days in between. That means of schedule of 2-1-2-1 etc. will be followed for about the next week and a half.

"It won't be any different for us," Tuberville said. "I'm not a believer in two-a-days anyway. We've never gone full pads two times in one day. We'll do one in shoulder pads and helmets, have a little bit of contact, but most of the time we're just going to try to get as much teaching as we can in two-a-days. We want to try to get in one good practice a day once we start full pads."

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