Injuries Hamper Tiger Preparations

Auburn, Ala.--With another road game on the horizon, the Auburn Tigers continue to be bothered by nagging injuries on both sides of the ball.

On a perfect September afternoon in Auburn, the Tigers continued to work towards elminating some of their imperfections that caused a 31-14 loss at Syracuse last week. Practicing for nearly two and a half hours in full pads for Saturday's game at Vanderbilt, the 2-1 Tigers focused on getting better on the field while the injured try to do the same off the field.

Injury problems are always a part of the game but the Tigers have some nagging problems on offense as wide receiver Deandre Green missed practice with a strained back, Lorenzo Diamond missed with a sprained toe and Ben Nowland was out with a sprained knee. On defense starting cornerback Roderick Hood continues to be bothered by a virus. While all have a good chance to be in action this weekend, it put a damper on what should have been a perfect football afternoon.

"It was another beautiful day at practice," Coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We're getting a lot more done. The attitude of the team has been real good. We've been trying to keep people healthy. It was a pretty tough day yesterday (with the injuries to Green and Diamond). We've been fighting a little of that all week but ,hopefully, most will be back and ready to go."

The loss of Nowland has been offset some by the play of true freshman center Danny Lindsey. With his performance in a relief role Saturday against Syracuse, Lindsey erased all doubts about his play and that gives the Auburn coaching staff the luxury of allowing Nowland to heal fully before he returns to action. Tuberville said that Lindsey would likely get the starting job Saturday night with Nowland available should an emergency arise.

While the offense continued to work on getting Campbell more in-tune with the game plan and two-minute offense while working with a new center, the defense was busy getting a makeshift secondary more familiar with what Vanderbilt does on offense. Without Hood on the field, true freshman Carlos Rogers earned most of the work at corner on Wednesday and had one of his better practices of the year. With sophomore Karlos Dansby preparing for his first career start at the whip linebacker with Roshard Gilyard still hampered by a stiff neck and back, the coaching staff is concerned that this young defense can't practice against this offense like they had hoped because it's something that is hard to duplicate.

"It's kind of tough practicing for a team that doesn't huddle," Tuberville noted. "They run from the shotgun almost every down so it's been kind of tough this week to get the scout team to do that and get anything out of it. But we practiced hard and like I told the team today,‘ We're going to have to play much better than we played if we're going to be successful'. It's going to be another road trip. It's going to be tough and we're going to have to play a lot better and keep our concentration more consistent than what we've been in the last two games for four quarters."

Although it may sound like the defense could be confused in Saturday's game because of the lack of practice they'll get against Vanderbilt's offense, that shouldn't be the case. Because of some of the things they do on offense with Greg Zolman at quarterback, the Tigers shouldn't have any problems with the offense because it's very similar to the one they see in practice every day.

"This group doesn't substitute a lot so it's really not a problem," Tuberville said. "Last week they would put three tight ends in the game and use one tight end as a fullback and one guy as a wide receiver so they confused you a lot more. Vanderbilt does some things like that but they are a lot more like us--you can identify it a little bit easier. Hopefully, we won't have a problem lining up."

The Tigers will know for sure Saturday night at 6 p.m. when they take the field against the Commodores in Nashville. The game will be shown on pay-per-view only with the Auburn Network's own Andy Burcham and Rod Bramblett handling the announcing duties.

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