Tigers Improve In Final Practice For The Pigs

The news on the injury front is better as Auburn prepares for Saturday's 11:30 a.m. game at Arkansas. Tommy Tuberville and two of his key players talk about what AU needs to do to be successful vs. the Razorbacks.

Auburn, Ala.--A pair of wounded Tigers returned to practice on Thursday and there is a possibility that tailback Ronnie Brown and cornerback Carlos Rogers could see playing time vs. Arkansas this Saturday, Coach Tommy Tuberville said on Thursday evening.

Rogers, who has broken bones in his finger from an injury suffered in last week's victory over Tennessee, is expected to take a shot at playing vs. the Razorbacks. He will be outfitted with a rubber cast to protect his finger.

Carlos Rogers

Brown, who suffered what Tuberville called a slight pulled hamstring in the third quarter of the Tennessee game, was running well at Thursday's final practice before Saturday's game in Fayetteville. "We will just have to wait and see," Tuberville said on how much he expects Brown to play.

That potential good news on the injury front, plus a more upbeat practice, were pleasing to the head coach. "We went through the entire game plan," Tuberville said. "Our bounce in our step was a lot better today (Thursday). Yesterday we were were a little bit worried. We looked tired. It was a very physical week last week and this week has been physical knowing we are going into a physical week against Arkansas so we had to get down and dirty on both sides of the line of scrimmage."

After playing two of their worst football games of the past two seasons vs. the Arkansas Razorbacks, senior Reggie Torbor said it is time for his Tigers to step up and perform at a higher level on Saturday in Fayetteville.

The Tigers will likely need to play some of their best football of the season to get out of town with a victory over the 4-0 Razorbacks, who are ranked seventh nationally. On Thursday, Torbor and the Tigers had their final workout before they board a plane on Friday for a charter flight to Fayetteville.

"This looks like the running game of all running games," said Torbor in analyzing the Razorbacks' offense. "(Cedric) Cobbs is like the second or third leading rusher in the nation and he is running behind a big, physical offensive line. They probably have the best offensive lineman in the nation in Shawn Andrews and they have a tight end (6-5, 320 Jason Peters) who is about 300 pounds and looks like another huge offensive lineman. They believe in running and have confidence in it. I believe Tennessee kind of got away from it early once they didn't have success with it.

Reggie Torbor

"Watching Arkansas on film I don't think they are going to abandon their running game so easily," Torbor adds. "Looking back at their Alabama game, Arkansas was down by three touchdowns and they just continued running the football and never panicked. They just played defense and ran football and it worked for them. We are going to have to be prepared to stop them for four quarters."

Torbor remembers his last trip to Fayetteville, a 42-17 loss for the Tigers. "It was like 24-17 in the fourth quarter and in the next five minutes it just got out of hand," the senior defensive end said. "Last year we were winning 17-14 with like three minutes to go to halftime and then boom, all of the sudden they take it 80 yards. Then they blocked a kick and scored again. The ball always seems to bounce their way when we play them. We just need to go out there and get after them and just play Auburn football."

Senior defensive tackle Demarco McNeil said the Tigers need to play better than they did last year vs. the Razorbacks in a game won by the visitors, 38-17.

"Last year we missed a lot of tackles and they made a lot of yards after contact," McNeil said. "We are going to try to minimize that. They made a lot of big plays and hopefully we can get eliminate that, too."

Auburn, which is 2-0 in the SEC, can stay at the top of the division with a victory over the Razorbacks, who are 1-0 in league play. "This is a pretty big game," McNeil said. "The winner of this is going to be in the driver's seat right now as far as winning the SEC West. It is definitely a big game. I think we will be ready for the challenge."

Redshirt freshman strong safety said the physical victory over Tennessee has helped the Tigers. "I think we really came together offensively and defensively and definitely made a step in the right direction."

Defensive end Jay Ratliff will not make the road trip as he continues to be plagued by his high ankle sprain. Offensive tackle Marcus McNeill, who has been nursing a back problem again this week, is scheduled to start against the Razorbacks.

"As well as we played last week, we need to keep that same intensity when we play on the road," Tuberville said. Auburn has turned the ball over six times in its last two outings vs. Arkansas. Avoiding those mistakes will be essential if the Tigers are going to upset the unbeaten Razorbacks, Tuberville said.


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