Tigers Work On Game Plan For ULM

Coach Al Borges and linebacker Antarrious Williams talk about getting ready for the season opener.

Auburn, Ala.-–Game week has arrived for the Auburn Tigers and Tuesday was the first of three consecutive practices in shorts as they prepare for Saturday's season opener against Louisiana-Monroe.

Working on all phases of the game for nearly two hours, the last 30 minutes in a steady rain, the Tigers are beginning to put the final touches on the game plan for the 1:30 p.m. kickoff on Saturday. Offensive coordinator Al Borges said the day went well for the offense as his players attempted to fine tune everything before this weekend.

"We're in shells right now trying to get their legs back," Borges said. "We went pretty heavy last week. I'm not saying the practices are totally mental, because we're still trying to be semi-physical, but we're shortening them a little bit so that we'll have some fresh legs and arms when we play. I think it's going pretty well.

"We had very few re-run plays today and that's our goal," he added. "I told the offense our goal is to re-run less plays every day. At least then we know what we're doing."

Learning a new offense isn't only about getting it down in practice, but about taking it from the practice field to the game. That can be a difficult thing to do and it's something that Borges said they'll try to help along by narrowing the players' focus each week with a smaller playbook designed for each game.

"What we've done," Borges said, "we've got this huge menu of plays that can be intimidating. What you'll see now is about a third of the plays (that were originally on the board). All we've done is go through two-a-days and fall camp and worked on a lot of stuff that we hope to use during the course of the season. For this game we've trimmed it down to what best fits the defense we're facing and best fits our ability to execute the plan."

Something that Borges will do is script the first 14-15 plays for each game this season. That is something that many West Coast Offense coordinators do each week and Borges said it's not a set thing, but something he definitely believes in. By scripting the plays by Thursday of each week, Borges said it allows him to let the players get a feel for the offense each week before the start of the game by rehearsing them in practice.

"It's not like you're running 15 straight plays regardless of down and distance," Borges said. "What you do is script the first 15 first and second downs. If you get to third downs then you go to situations on your call sheet to make that call. It doesn't always go exactly go in the order that you script them. Sometimes you'll do three in a row and jump to five if you think it's better for the situation, but generally when I script plays at least 14 are going to get called at one time or another."

Antarrious Williams will be a key for the Tigers' D this season.

Defensively, the team continues to try to gel before Saturday's kickoff with the full starting unit together again for the second straight practice. Despite being more speed-oriented than last year on the defensive side of the ball, junior linebacker Antarrious Williams said the system will be familiar to Auburn fans who watched the Tigers finish fifth nationally in total defense last year.

"We have the same defense and same schemes, we just have different players," Williams said. "We're just going to go out and prepare to win. We just have to play the defense like it's supposed to be played."

On Tuesday the Tigers spent a portion of the practice on special teams with the punt return and cover teams getting the brunt of the work. As expected both Tre Smith and Carnell Williams were catching punts along with Jerald Watson, Silas Daniels and Lee Guess. In keeping with what head coach Tommy Tuberville has been saying all preseason, in addition to Watson fellow freshman Brad Lester was working on the coverage team. Because of their talents both are expected to see some early action on the special teams for the Tigers beginning this Saturday.

On the injury front wide receiver Daniels was back practicing and catching punts and should be ready to go if needed on Saturday. Defensive end Bret Eddins practiced full speed and said that he feels ready to go after suffering neck and ankle pain in preseason.

The Tigers will practice Wednesday and Thursday before having a short walk-through on Friday. Saturday's game will be available on a pay-per-view basis only.

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