Getting Down To Business

Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about getting back to practice and the team's attitude heading into the Music City Bowl.

Auburn, Ala.--It was back to work for the Auburn Tigers on Thursday as they began preparations in earnest for the Music City Bowl match-up with Wisconsin on New Year's Eve in Nashville. Practicing for an hour and a half in full pads, the Tigers worked on the gameplan for the Badgers and also got some work in for young players such as Eric Brock, Stanley McClover and Carl Stewart. Coach Tommy Tuberville said it was good to be back on the field after all the happenings of the last two weeks.

"It should be an excellent game," Tuberville said. "We started practice today. This is an unusual practice scenario for us. Normally we would have already had a couple of practices, but we decided to wait until after finals, which ended up yesterday. We'll get five practices before we leave and we'll get five when we're there on site. That will be enough time to get ready for this game. We needed to work through recruiting and also our finals."

On the injury front the Tigers appear to be very healthy going into the bowl practice schedule. Fullback Brandon Johnson looks to be suffering no ill effects from a sprained ankle suffered late in the season and was full speed on Thursday. The same is true for noseguard Tommy Jackson, who was hampered by a knee injury in the Alabama game and may need surgery following the season. He was practicing on Thursday and should be ready to face Wisconsin.

"We only had one player today that did not practice which was Anthony Mix," Tuberville said. "He should be back after a severely sprained ankle suffered in the Georgia game, hopefully by the time we come back from Christmas. We're going to put in a very aggressive gameplan. We're going to work our younger players very hard. Our older players will really take over this team working through these practices for the next few days because you need good senior leadership to work in the off-season and spring practice and especially during the holiday season which this is."

Chairman of the Music City Bowl Joe Kelley presents Coach Tuberville with a guitar, commemorating Auburn's invitation to the game this season.

Off for nearly a full month after a victory over Alabama in the Iron Bowl, the Tigers were obviously a little rusty on a cold Thursday morning. One of the highlights of the day was seeing big Brandon Jacobs lined up at linebacker for the first time in an Auburn uniform. Tuberville said he looked like he was a little lost at times, but that was to be expected in his first outing on defense.

"He looked pretty good," Tuberville said. "He fits in over there. He's very aggressive. It's going to take him a while to pick up the things we're doing, but Brandon moving from running back to linebacker will be a challenge for him. Will he play in this game? I don't know, but it will give him a chance to work quite a few snaps going into the off-season and spring practice. It will give us a chance to evaluate him and see if he needs to stay there or move to another position."

Tuberville said that NFL scouts who have watched the Tigers play this season suggested that Jacobs' best move might be to seek another position to play in his senior year on the Plains. While linebacker is where he will get his start, Tuberville said that tight end and defensive end are not out of the question before he's done at Auburn.

"He liked it," Tuberville said of Jacobs. "We sat down and visited the last couple of weeks and he wants to have an opportunity when he goes and graduates next year to possibly go to the next level and play."

With Jacobs on defense the trio of Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown and Tre Smith got all of the work at tailback on Thursday. Mixing in quarterback Josh Sullivan and the second offense for much of the practice the offense was noticeably off at times, but Tuberville said that's normal after a long layoff and should improve heading into the game at 11 a.m. on New Year's Eve.

"On offense you have to catch the ball and throw it and concentrate on another defense that you're trying to prepare for," Tuberville said. "Offensively you always get better from day-to-day when trying to prepare for a team. This is getting ready for a different team and different defense. We tried to do it slowly today."

The Tigers will practice Thursday afternoon and twice on Friday at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and will hold one final practice Saturday morning before breaking for the holidays. The team will meet in Nashville on Dec. 26 to resume practices for the Music City Bowl.

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