Tigers Have "Good Practice" To End Two-A-Days

Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about the kicking of John Vaughn and the improvement in the offensive line.

Auburn, Ala.–-John Vaughn made a few kicks with pressure on his last fall for the Auburn Tigers, but perhaps none in his career to this point were as pressure packed as the 40-yarder he lined up at the end of Tuesday morning's long practice.

Worn out from the first true hot day of preseason practice, the team huddled behind Vaughn and holder Sam Rives as he lined up the kick that was worth six 60-yard sprints.

If Vaughn made the kick the team would not have to run. Miss and the day gets a lot longer. Making matters more difficult was the fact that the entire field goal team had just 10 seconds to run on the field, line up and make the kick. Vaughn didn't appear phased by the pressure as he drilled the ball through and was immediately mobbed by his teammates.

"He had a lot of pressure," Coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We had already ran once and been out there two hours and 45 minutes. Everybody was dead tired and he's got to knock one through from 40 yards. That's a lot of pressure. That's more than winning a game, that's life or death. He didn't hit the ball great, but it got through the upright and that's all we're asking."

With temperatures climbing into the mid-80s by the end of practice with the humidity rising, Auburn practiced for the final time on the intramural fields and Tuberville said it was another good day for his team. Working mostly offense against defense for the bulk of the practice, the team closed out the day with a solid two-minute drill where quarterback Jason Campbell threw the ball well.

Jason Campbell was wearing number 11 for the second straight day.

"That was a pretty good practice," Tuberville said. "We started off slow, but ended up pretty good. It still wasn't a great day in catching the football. We're still dropping way too many balls.

"We've made a lot of progress. We've done a lot of team work, more than we ever have of 11-on-11 in two-a-days. I think it's going to pay off for us. We're working the first set, the second set, and threes. We've never done that before, but we're counting on some of these young guys to help us down the stretch."

Tuberville said a focal point of the preseason practices to this point has been working on getting the younger players up to speed and learning the offense and defense. Using three different units in drills on both sides of the ball, the Tigers are building depth and Tuberville said that's a key for this team as the Tigers head into the 2004 season.

"The attitude of the team is excellent," Tuberville said. "The thing we have to do more is focus on what we have in front of us. We have to grow up a little bit. We're not as mature as we need to be as a team. We have a lot of young guys that need to be more mature about what they're getting into.

"We decided to practice three groups instead of two," Tuberville added. "To do that you have to be much more on time with what you are doing or you're going to be out here forever. You have a time limit on how much you can practice, so if we were going to get three groups a lot of work we were going to have to be more efficient on periods and making sure everything was running smooth."

Offensively, the line continued to stand out as Danny Lindsey and the second team offensive line of Leon Hart, Jonathan Palmer, Thomas Anderson and Rich Trucks had a good day controlling the line of scrimmage. Jarrod Britt sat out of Tuesday's practice after injuring his right shoulder on Monday. He'll be evaluated to determine the extent of his injury. King Dunlap missed the last half of practice with a sore knee. Despite some shuffling, Tuberville said the offensive line is doing well.

"Our entire offensive line is much improved," the head coach said. "We're so much farther along now than we've been, not only with the first group, but with the second group. I'm really proud of Danny Lindsey, a senior that is playing guard and went to center the last few days. He'll play both positions this year. That's going to allow us to play a guy like Tim Duckworth, who has the ability. We just need to find a slot to get him into the game. We're looking for different combinations on the offensive line."

For the second straight day, Campbell sported the number 11 on his jersey while true freshman Calvin Booker wore number 17. Saying he always wanted to wear a single digit number, Campbell said he's now about 50/50 on which number he'll wear this season.

"I was really going to try to move to a single digit early in my career, but I didn't have the opportunity," Campbell said. "My mom said ‘we've already bought all these jerseys.' If it wasn't for that I would have already changed.

"It's going to be 17 or 11. He's probably redshirting, so I told him I had the opportunity to showcase 11 for him if he wants me to."

Auburn had a short walk-through Tuesday afternoon followed by a barbecue dinner. Wednesday the team will be off for the first day of classes and Thursday they will return to the practice fields. The second scrimmage of the preseason is scheduled for Friday, but Tuberville said the amount of players in the training room will determine if the Tigers scrimmage or not.

"We're going to meet and see where the depth chart is," Tuberville said. "We'll have to see if we've got enough to go. I think we do, but we have to look in the crystal ball and see how many are back by Thursday afternoon. If we can get enough back we'll scrimmage, but if we had to practice right now we wouldn't scrimmage because we don't have enough."

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