Needing some energizing after two poor weeks of play, the Tigers got just that with the return of Stanley McClover to the practice fields.
Cleared Tuesday as a partial qualifier by the NCAA, McClover took some much needed time to regroup and deal with his feelings before joining the team for Wednesday's practice. Once back, it didn't take him long to make his presence felt on the scout team said Coach Tommy Tuberville.
"It was good to see him out there," Tuberville said. "I just tried to turn around after watching him for a play or two and walked away knowing, ‘what if?' It's been one of those years. At least we got him here and he's practicing and he's in class. He's got a chance to be around the team. He just can't travel and he can't play. It's just a shame.
"He's a disappointed young man and he'll probably understand better than we do. He has tremendous ability and he'll be one of the best to ever play here someday if he keeps working like he's working. He's playing on the scout team and he's not very easy to block. He's one of those guys that just gives you more problems than a scout team needs to give you. He doesn't give you a false sense of doing good. He's going to kick somebody's butt every time he lines up."
Obviously overjoyed following his first day of practice, McClover said it was just fun to get back on the football field again and be with his teammates for the first time in nearly three weeks.
"I'm trying to give them a good look," McClover said. "I want to give them game-time pressure. That's all I'm trying to do."
A competitor who said he thought he had done everything necessary to be ruled eligible, McClover could only sit and watch helplessly as his teammates worked every day in practice and struggled to a 0-2 start. He said that sitting on the sidelines was the worst part of the whole ordeal, but it gives him an incentive to be the best player possible in the future.
"We provided the clearing house with all the information they asked for," McClover said. "Unfortunately, it didn't go my way. It's a blessing in disguise. We'll try to work something out. It's real frustrating and nobody can change it. I just have to play with the cards they dealt me.
"It's the toughest thing I've ever dealt with in my life," he added. "Being able to do good in two-a-days and then stop, that was tough. That was real tough...if this doesn't make you hungry and get ready to get on the field then nothing can do it. This gives me a lot of energy to get out there next year and do my thing."
Earlier in the week Tuberville said some changes were in the works on both sides of the ball and that work continued on Wednesday. Because of the struggles on offense in the first two games, it was obvious that some of those would occur on the offensive line. Tuberville said the changes have gone well and true freshman Jarrod Britt is one of the players that could benefit from getting a longer look this week in practice.
"We've got some options now we probably didn't have going into last week," Tuberville said. "We've moved people around and had a chance to look at different combinations if things don't go as we like.
"Jarrod is doing better and better," Tuberville said. "Mentally is where his focus needs to get better in learning the system. He's been here only a month. It usually takes a heck of a lot longer than that. He's going to be able to work in the mix in a short period of time if he keeps his attitude the way it is and his work ethic."
There's also some changes in the works at the two safety positions where Will Herring has moved to strong safety to back up Donnay Young. Practicing and expected to be 100 percent for Saturday's game after being kicked in the shin, Young is capable of playing both positions. That's something that Tuberville said is important in this defense and gives the Tigers a good rotation.
"They all can play," Tuberville said of the safeties. "I think you'll see Letts (Andrew Letts) play this week along with Will Herring. Karibi (Karibi Dede) has a bruised heel, but he'll be fine. We have a lot of options. We just have to play better there. We're going to get tested. They get the ball deep and throw a lot of crossing routes. The run options where your safeties have to fill and they have responsibilities. It's a big week for the safeties."
Newly coiffed quarterback Courtney Denson, who cut off his dredlocks in favor of the short hair look.
Tuberville said the team worked on all phases of the kicking game in Wednesday's practice with some changes being looked at in that area as well. Something that will remain the same is in the kicking department where true freshman and former high school teammates John Vaughn and Kody Bliss will once again hold down the starting jobs.
In addition to McClover, Tuberville also praised quarterback Courtney Denson for his work on the scout team portraying Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler. Denson has run the option during the practices and Tuberville said he's been a class act this fall helping the team prepare each week.
Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and can be seen on Jefferson Pilot.