On Sunday the Tigers did just that with an energetic one hour and 45-minute practice in full pads just ahead of a rainstorm passing through the Auburn area. Coach Tommy Tuberville said it wasn't one of the best practice days the team has had this preseason.
"It was not a very good practice early," Tuberville said. "There wasn't a lot of concentration. We made a lot of mistakes. The defense picked it up the second part of the practice. The offense never really got in the groove today. It was one of those days where we didn't get a lot done on offense. Defensively, we had a lot more intensity, but still struggled. We're running a lot of new blitzes."
Several players sat out of Sunday's practice and with an off-day on Monday the team should be as close to full strength on Tuesday as it has been since the first day of practice this preseason. Among the players missing practice were Bret Eddins (ankle), Marquies Gunn (hamstring) and Doug Langenfeld (hip flexor, ankle) on defense while the offense was full strength for the most part with just King Dunlap held out of contact.
"We're trying to get them back on Tuesday," Coach Terry Price said. "The tough thing now is that we're practicing with a lot of guys that we're not sure if they're going to play or not this fall. It will good to get Bret Eddins, Marquies Gunn, the guys we're going to count on this fall (on the field). Stanley has been out there the last few days. Hopefully, with all of the days they've had off we can get our whole defense back on Tuesday, especially the defensive line."
Bret Eddins and Jay Ratliff are two big keys for the Auburn defense this fall.
Injuries have been a major setback for the Tigers this preseason because of the lack on continuity on both sides of the ball. Although only two (David Irons Jr. and Jarrod Britt) have been serious, the numbers of players missing from practice has been troublesome for both coaches and players. Sunday there were some positive signs on that front at Tommy Jackson again practiced while defensive back Lorenzo Ferguson also took part in the workout. Tight end Cooper Wallace, while he didn't go through contact, worked on route running and catching passes with the tight ends. Tuberville said that Ferguson's return gives him a chance to help down the road.
"Ferguson is probably about 90 percent," Tuberville said. "We're looking at him for some special teams maybe because of his speed. He can really run and he's tall and lanky. If we can get him back full speed and get him in some kind of shape we'll look at him on some special teams.
"We're going to play him on special teams if he stays this healthy. That doesn't mean that four or five games down the road he won't be ready to go."
Tuberville said Montavian Collier missed the first half of practice, but was on the field to finish out the day. In his absence the Tigers took a look at junior safety Andrew Letts at outside linebacker. Letts, a powerful hitter and very physical player, looked good in tackling drills against the running backs and is very knowledgeable with the defense. Despite his lack of size (6-1, 206), the former walk-on wide receiver could be a solid move in an attempt to add some depth to the linebacker position if the move is made permanent.
Sunday was another good kicking day as both John Vaughn and Philip Yost missed just one kick each during practice. Yost finished the day on a high note as he drilled a 40-yard field goal to keep the team from running sprints for the second time on the day. Earlier the team ran six 60-yard sprints following special teams to get the Tigers accustomed to playing when they are tired. Punter Kody Bliss is kicking the ball well after losing around 30 pounds over the summer with an illness. He is recovered now and should gain weight throughout the season.
Auburn will take Monday off before returning to practice on Tuesday afternoon. Practices will follow Wednesday through Friday before another off day on Saturday. Sunday will begin game week for the Tigers heading into a Sept. 4 kickoff against Louisiana-Monroe.