Tigers Have Busy First Practice In Music City

The Auburn Tigers opened practice for the Music City Bowl with a long workout that featured a lot of scout team action on both sides of the ball.

Nashville, Tenn.--The first day of practice on the campus of Vanderbilt University was a long one for the Auburn Tigers as they prepare to face the Wisconsin Badgers in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl on New Year's Eve.

Working on all phases of the game plan for the 11 a.m. kickoff, Coach Tommy Tuberville said the two and a half hour practice went well as his team gets ready to face a Big Ten opponent for the second-straight year in a bowl game.

"The players were enthused," Tuberville said of the practice. "One guy didn't practice, Anthony Mix, his ankle is still a little sore, but he should be able to play. It was a good day of practice. The enthusiasm was outstanding, especially for the first day. Tomorrow (Sunday) will be the telling tale. After a couple of nights here some of them will start to get a little tired.

"Tomorrow will be basically be a Wednesday practice for us during the week. It will be our last contact practice and then we'll brush up on the game plan for the next couple of days."

Anthony Mix is questionable for Auburn's game against Wisconsin.

Working on two full practice fields simultaneously, the offense and defense both continued to install the plan for the Badgers as the teams worked against scout team units on both sides of the ball. Both groups used much of the time to get younger players like Josh Sullivan and Carl Stewart some time on offense while defensively players like Montae Pitts and Derrick Graves got a lot of action.

One thing that has been talked about a great deal in the last few weeks is the lack of practice time the Tigers have gotten in preparation for the game. Unlike many teams that use every possible day to practice and often get as many as 15 workouts in before a bowl game, Auburn didn't do that this season. Instead the coaches chose to spend extra time on the road recruiting. Tuberville said despite that he feels like the time the coaching staff has had will be plenty to prepare them for an always tough Wisconsin team.

"There is going to be a total of about 10 practices we have for this game and normally you have about three for a regular game," Tuberville said. "It's plenty. We just have to make sure they are in pretty good shape and do some conditioning. Hopefully, the weather will be great for us."

Philip Yost

After watching several of the bowl games in the past few days it's no surprise that the Tigers spent a great deal of time on special teams in Saturday's practice. Concerned about that part of the game before the Christmas break, Tuberville's worries about special team miscues have been played out in several postseason games and he's hoping some extra work in that department will keep that from becoming an issue with the Tigers on New Year's Eve. Both Philip Yost and John Vaughn had solid days kicking the ball with Yost showing more consistency than he's had in quite a while. That could be a good sign for him heading into the game.

With several Nashville area players on the roster it was a homecoming of sorts with friends and family in attendance watching Saturday's practice. For the gang from Brentwood Academy there was also an interested spectator in running back David Holbert. One of the top players in the South at his position, he spent a great deal of time watching the offense go through the motions on Saturday. Holbert took an official recruiting visits to Auburn and Tennessee before Christmas.

After attending a Sunday night welcome party put on bowl officials at the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Tigers will continue preparations for Wisconsin with practices on Sunday and Monday and will have a short walk-through on Tuesday. Kickoff for Wednesday's game against Wisconsin is set for just after 11 a.m. and can be seen nationally on ESPN. The Tigers will practice at 9:45 a.m. on Sunday.

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