Long Workout Opens Preparations For LSU

Auburn, Ala.--Coaches put the football Tigers through a lengthy and physical workout as Auburn began heavy duty preparations on Saturday evening for the regular season finale vs. LSU.

With a berth in the SEC Championship Game going to the winner of next week's SEC West showdown in Baton Rouge, La., Tommy Tuberville and staff practiced the Tigers for nearly three hours in full pads with full contact. For dessert, there was a double helping of wind sprints as the coaches try to help their players recover from the hangover of an embarrassing loss to Alabama a week earlier and five days of down time for the players during the Thanksgiving Holiday break.

While the players were taking a break at home, the coaching staff stayed at the football complex and studied Auburn's offensive and defensive shortcomings while getting a read on LSU. This is the second time the coaches have put in a game plan for the Bayou Bengals. The game was originally scheduled for Sept. 15, but was postponed in the wake of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

The coaches have worked all week on the plan and have got a good one," Tuberville said. "We have got almost everybody back healthy. Carnell (Williams), Phillip Pate, Jimmy St. Louis and Marcus White are the only four that missed practice. Marcus has something wrong with his neck. He is going to Birmingham to check him out. He is very questionable for this game."

White injured his neck in a freak accident at practice the week of the Georgia game and has not been effective since then. Williams suffered a broken collarbone vs. Alabama and Pate (shoulder) and St. Louis (knee) have been lost for the season after having surgeries. Fullback/linebacker Brandon Johnson was back at practice after suffering a bruised knee vs. Alabama. Offensive tackle Mark Pera, who was injured in the first half of the Georgia game with an ankle sprain, was back at full speed for Saturday's session.

"I thought it was a good practice," said redshirt freshman wide receiver Joe Walkins, who predicts his team will bounce back and play well next Saturday night at Tiger Stadium before a national TV audience on ESPN. "If we work hard all week at practice, we will be ready to go to Baton Rouge."

Tuberville agreed with Walkins and said, "We had a good practice with a lot of contact. We went back to basics and worked our first teams versus each other. We worked a lot on tackling and other fundamentals. We also spent half the practice working on LSU. We'll come back (Sunday) and do basically the same thing. We'll have two hard days and then we'll use the rest of the week to polish up on the game plan.

The Tigers are 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the SEC. LSU is 4-3 in the league and 7-3 overall. Auburn has already clinched a share of the SEC West title, but LSU will go to the league championship game if it beats Auburn because it will have won the head to head matchup.

Tuberville spent much of the practice session watching the quarterbacks as Daniel Cobb, Jason Campbell and Jeff Klein took turns running the offense. The Tiger coach admitted that it is not a good situation to be going into a big game in Baton Rouge still unsettled about who the starting quarterback will be. "Obviously, it has been a problem all year looking for consistency," Tuberville said. "Then we find a running back who we felt could help take the ball out of the quarterback's hand to help him a little bit and he hurts his shoulder. We don't know who the running back that will start is yet or what quarterback will start until Tuesday."

Ronnie Brown, Casinious Moore and Chris Butler all got work with the first team at tailback on Saturday and the head coach said all three could see action in Baton Rouge.

The Tigers are scheduled to practice Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before heading to Baton Rouge.

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