One of the players who is expected to have a big part in Auburn's plans this week is senior wide receiver Jeris McIntyre. Auburn's leading receiver, McIntyre said that early in the week it was tough to get over the Ole Miss loss, but now the team is focused on going to Georgia and coming away with a victory.
"When you lose a game like that, just being a human being and in a football sense you are going to be down," McIntyre said. "Like Coach Tuberville said these next two games are our biggest games. They are our rivals. We have to bounce back if we want to be successful."
A senior and one of Auburn's most valuable leaders this season, McIntyre is a second-generation Tiger, following in the footsteps of his running back dad, Secdrick McIntyre. Familiar with Auburn's history against both Georgia and Alabama and what it means to the entire program to beat both of those schools, McIntyre said it would make this season a much more pleasant memory if they can pull out two wins to finish the season strong.
"For us seniors it would show a tremendous leadership role if we are able to bounce back after this," McIntyre said. "I think it would be a success for us to go out and play up to our capabilities. It would be great. Just being here all this time and going through the Georgia and Alabama games, being able to come out victorious in these two would send us off greatly."
Something that Auburn must do to get victories against Georgia and Alabama is to throw the ball successfully downfield. That puts the burden of the offense on quarterback Jason Campbell, something that McIntyre said he's comfortable with after the way the junior played under pressure against Ole Miss last weekend.
"Jason has been here for a while," McIntyre said. "I've seen from when he got here until now when he's grown into a tremendous leader for this team and this offense. Saturday he showed the way he could be a field general and guide us up and down the field whether it's running or throwing. I think that should put the naysayers to rest because he showed his capabilities to make plays in and out of the pocket."
A change in weather brought new challenges for the Tigers as a cold front passed through Auburn, bringing with it strong winds a temperatures that dipped into the low 50s by the end of the two hour practice. Coach Tommy Tuberville said with the expected cooler temperatures for this weekend's game it was good to get to work some in that weather in a practice setting.
"It was a good practice today," Tuberville said. "We worked a lot on throwing the ball today because of the cold weather. It was the coldest day we've had. We wanted to make sure we had that out of our minds going into Saturday's game. It was a cool practice and the guys bounced around good. Anything to do with the football we had to make sure we did a lot of it, handoffs and snaps, because I understand it's going to be a little chilly come Saturday.
"Everybody is going to play," Tuberville added. "Brandon (Brandon Johnson) practiced full speed today. Danny Lindsey practiced full speed and Marcus McNeill. It was good to see everybody out there running around."
One of the main points of focus in Thursday's practice was again on the kicking game as Tuberville went to the stadium with the kickers to watch them in action and put some additional pressure on their normal kicking routine. Both John Vaughn and Philip Yost could see action against Georgia, but Tuberville said he would make a decision on one of them before the team leaves on Friday.
"We'll look at all of it tonight and bring them in tomorrow and talk to them about this week," Tuberville said. "It's pretty close, but I haven't made my mind up yet."
Kickoff for Saturday's game against the seventh-ranked Bulldogs is set for 2:30 p.m. and can be seen nationally on CBS television. Auburn leads the all-time series against Georgia 51-47-8, but has outscored the Bulldogs by just two total points in that time.
Tiger Ticket Extra: True freshman defensive tackle Tez Doolittle practiced again on Thursday and appears to be making some progress in his recovery from both shoulder surgery and hernia surgery over the summer. Down to 284 from his reporting weight of 305 pounds, Doolittle said that he's trying to get down under 260 pounds to have a shot at playing fullback for the Tigers next fall. Tuberville said it's nice to see him out on the field after going through so much to get ready.
"It's good to have him out there," Tuberville said. "He looks good in pads. He's really lost 15-20 pounds since he's gotten out here. It's good for his rehab to be around the guys. We thought about not starting his clock, but I think it was a good decision. He has started off good in the classroom. It's good to have him out there."
A fullback when he was recruited at around the 255 to 260 pound mark, Doolittle has grown into a sure-fire lineman unless something miraculous happens in the next few months. A force at tackle when called upon at Opelika, Doolitte said that it doesn't really matter what position he plays he's just happy to be back on the field. His timetable could be bumped back further because of recurring pain due to his hernia surgery. Doolittle said that if he's forced to have another surgery in January he would be out a couple of months, but would be ready for spring practice because of the work he's done with Coach Kevin Yoxall in the weight room.
"I feel my legs getting stronger," Doolittle said. "My legs have never felt this strong before and my upper body is getting strong. I'm not supposed to be benching a lot, but I'm way over my limit. I came in benching like 40 pounds, but now I'm doing 255 in reps. It helps me a lot with my speed and quickness."