Early Start Leads To Good Practice Day For AU

Auburn had its final contact practice on Sunday in preparation for Wednesday's Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl.

Nashville, Tenn.--The Auburn Tigers got an early start to a beautiful Sunday in the Music City with a spirited two-hour practice in full pads that put an end to the contact work for Wednesday's Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl against the Wisconsin Badgers.

Coach Tommy Tuberville said he was pleased with Sunday's work as the team looks forward to an off afternoon that many will use to attend the Tennessee Titans-Tampa Bay Buccaneers game at the Coliseum.

"This was the best practice we've had," Tuberville said. "We came out a little bit early today because some of the players wanted to go to the ball game. We came out and got a good practice in. We got our game plan in and tomorrow we'll have a walk-through. Basically, that's most of the practice time we'll have."

Anthony Mix

The injury situation looks to be a good one for Auburn as wide receiver Anthony Mix returned to practice on Sunday for some limited action. Tuberville said that the sophomore would be ready to go when the Tigers suit up against the physical Badgers on New Year's Eve and the healthy team has led to a good practice environment.

"Everybody looks like they are physically fit and ready to go," Tuberville said. "We haven't had any injuries. This has been the best practice of all our bowl practices. We looked pretty sharp. Now we have to get our legs back and get ready for Wednesday."

Tommy Jackson shown from earlier in the year.

Continuing a theme they've had in the practices leading up to bowl games in the past, Tuberville and his staff have used much of the practice time to get a look at some of the younger players on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Coach Hugh Nall gave redshirt freshman Jonathan Palmer some time at weak guard with Troy Reddick splitting time. Defensively players like Eric Brock and Quentin Groves are getting a long look. Nall said this is an important time for the younger players as they try to show what they can do heading into next season.

"Anytime you are in a bowl practice it's a big plus because of the number of reps that are extra compared to if the season had stopped in November," Nall said. "Carl Stewart has gotten a lot of reps at running back and Josh Sullivan has gotten some reps.

Jonathan Palmer

"Jonathan Palmer, I had him running a good bit of first team today and yesterday afternoon. For guys like that and Cole Bennett that has played all year it's another 10 or 11 practices. That's almost a spring practice. There's no substitute for experience and reps."

Defensively, the Tigers have been intense with many of the younger players seeing significant action as well. Up front both Wayne Dickens and Tommy Jackson are getting a majority of the reps along with Marquies Gunn and Doug Langenfeld on the outside. Coach Gene Chizik said despite the different players getting reps and the off-time the Tigers took before Christmas that he's been pleased with how his unit has practiced.

"They've been practicing hard and they are very attentive," Chizik said. "I'm pleased with it. They've practiced hard. Yesterday we banged them up pretty good and stayed out here a long time. Today we shortened it a little bit. I was pleased with it.

"I think when we came back after finals that first two or three practices were kind of rusty. I think they've kind of gotten back into it now and back to their old form. I think that time off was good for them though. It gave them a chance to focus on school and rest their bodies."

Auburn will have a non contact practice on Monday and a walk through on Tuesday to put the finishing touches on the game plan for Wisconsin. Kickoff for Wednesday's game is scheduled for just after 11 a.m. and can be seen nationally on ESPN.


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