Transition Time For Football Tigers

A report on Auburn's Friday football practice is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Tommy Tuberville says that it is transition time for Auburn football as his Tigers are switching into game-week mode following a two-hour, full pads practice on Friday.

The Tigers will take the day off on Saturday to recuperate from a busy week and will be back on the practice field on Sunday to focus on the season opener vs. Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday, Sept. 4th. Tuberville said that his team still needs to improve both mentally and physically before being ready for a game.

"This kind of wraps up what we call camp," Tuberville said Friday evening. "It's all game plan from here on out. We'll have some hard practices through the year. At this point, I'm pleased with where we're at."

Next week's practice schedule will be the same as in past seasons for Tuberville's coaching staff. The Tigers will work out on Sunday and hit the practice field Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

At Friday's session, the Tigers worked mostly on special teams, individual drills and goal line situations. "We had a gut-check day," Tuberville said. "It was hot out there--about as hot as it's been. It's been a good week--it's been a hard week. We've worked them about as hard as we can work them to this point.

"We'll go Sunday working only against the scout team," the coach added. "We'll try to get our legs back. Sunday is the only day we'll go full pads. Monday is off, and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be shells. We can do about as much in shells (as we do in full pads).

"We've got to start getting our legs back, not just for this first game but for all of them. We've got nine in a row. Hopefully, the day off will be relaxing as I told them it's not a day where they can run around and stay on their feet all day. They've got to get their legs back and come back Sunday ready to go."

The first 30 minutes of practice were devoted to special teams. Carnell Williams, Devin Aromashodu and Jerald Watson worked with the first team on kick returns, and Carlos Rogers and Brad Lester practiced with the second team.

With Silas Daniels still not 100 percent from a tweaked hamstring, Carnell Williams, Tre Smith and James Swinton got all of the work at punt returner.

Other players who were held out of action were Kyle Derozan (illness), Jay Ratliff (illness) Doug Langenfeld (ankle and hip flexor) and Bret Eddins (stinger). Tuberville is hopeful that each of those players will be ready to practice on Sunday. Marcus McNeill was held out of the goal-line scrimmage at the end of practice in order to rest his back and give true freshman Leon Hart playing time with the first team at left tackle.

Jerald Watson is shown during a drill in Friday's practice.

Running backs coach Eddie Gran worked with the hands team on onside-kick assignments. Members of the group include Devin Aromashodu, Ben Obomanu, Cooper Wallace, Anthony Mix, Tre Smith, Ronnie Brown, Carnell Williams, Carl Stewart, Will Herring and Courtney Taylor. Yost handled the kickoff duties.

After special teams work, the coaches told the players to line up for 60-yard wind sprints, only to call it off, sparking a minor celebration. The early practice wind sprints have been a feature of practices the past week.

In the goal-line work at the end of practice, the defense won the battle, Tuberville said. "We had about a 15-play goal line scrimmage. The defense won about the first three quarters, and the offense won the last part of it, but the defense definitely won the scrimmage.

"(Offensively) we're not a very good transition team," Tuberville added. "Being not aggressive on the run blocks, to being aggressive on the goal line is one thing we've got to learn. There is a transition for every team once you get to the three or four yard line. It seems like when we get at the goal line, four guys will do it right and one guy won't be as aggressive. Down there, everybody has to work together."

Kickers John Vaughn and Philip Yost ended the practice by making all of their field goals. Tuberville said that the first-string kicker will likely be named on Tuesday. "We're not going to question every move they make--they're not going to be perfect. Whoever we pick, hopefully he'll be ready to go mentally and physically."

Following the practice, Tuberville spoke to scholarship donors, who were guests at practice. On Saturday, he will give a speech to suiteholders, who will watch games in remodeled surroundings this year.

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