Tigers Wrap Up Physical Work For Yellow Jackets

Junior Rosegreen talks about bouncing back from the season opening loss to USC.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers put the finishing touches on the physical part of preparations for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets with a two-hour practice Thursday that focused on refining the game plan for Saturday's regionally televised game. Coming off a tough shutout loss at home to USC last week, cornerback Junior Rosegreen said this has been a testing week for the Tigers.

"We just have to bounce back and get ready for Georgia Tech," Rosegreen said. "We just went back to the drawing board and kind of looked at some things on defense. We just have to polish them up and get ready for Georgia Tech on Saturday."

In his first start at cornerback in over a full season, Rosegreen did a good job against a talented Trojan receiving corps. Keeping Coach Norm Chow's offense from the big play, the Tiger defense kept the game within reach until early in the fourth quarter.

Facing a true freshman quarterback and a running game that has been struggling to find an identity since losing their best runner early last season, Rosegreen said this week basically comes down to which team wants it more. He also said it may help the Tigers to get away from home and rally the troops for one common goal.

"I think it will probably be good to be on the road," Rosegreen said. "We'll see how we do. Hopefully we'll come back with a victory.

"Georgia Tech is pretty good," Rosegreen added. "I'm sure they're going to come out there hungry and wanting to win. We have to come out there the same way. As long as we come out there and execute our defense I think we'll be okay."

Junior Rosegreen

Something the Tigers focused on in practice on Thursday and every practice this week was forcing turnovers on the defensive side of the ball. Facing a unit that turned it over four times in a loss to BYU last week, Rosegreen said that is a key for Auburn this week if they hope to come away with the road win.

"This week we're working hard after the catch on stripping the ball and knocking the ball loose," Rosegreen said. "Pretty much, that's our main focus. We want to create turnovers and give our offense more chances to score touchdowns."

Following a very good week of practice, Coach Tommy Tuberville said that his team had a good Thursday and was helped out by a cooler than normal day on the Plains. One player absent from Thursday's workout was defensive lineman Tony McClain. After being held out of practice because of a medical condition, McClain returned to practice just once before taking off. Tuberville said they're not sure where he is at the moment and they don't expect him to return to the team.

Putting the finishing touches on the game plan for Georgia Tech, the Tigers spent most of Thursday's practice working against the scout team in shorts and helmets. Working on the kicking game, in particular special plays such as the hands team and pooch punting, Tuberville feels like his team is ready for their first road game on Saturday.

"They've been surviving most of the week," Tuberville said of his team. "At least trying to survive in the heat and humidity as everybody across the country is. It's been good considering the fact that we didn't play very well and we have to really pick up the tempo in this week's game. Hopefully the mental attitude is a lot better. You really don't know that. It's looks like we've got a lot of leadership. The guys have bounced around. We really won't know until Saturday."

In a decision that was pretty cut and dried, Tuberville said Thursday that Kody Bliss would be the punter for the Tigers this weekend. He also singled out both Ben Grubbs and Josh Thompson as players who have really looked good in their short time on offense. In fact, he said Grubbs might see some action on Saturday in the right situation.

"They've worked him pretty hard," Tuberville said of Grubbs. "They've had extra meeting times and all that just to try to get him ready. He's catching on pretty good."

Auburn will have a short walk-through in Bobby Dodd Stadium on Friday afternoon when they arrive in Atlanta. Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. central time and can be seen on ABC television. The game is a sellout and is the first between Auburn and Georgia Tech since 1987.

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