The 5-11, 210-pounder from Hoover, Ala., via the University of Nebraska, carried the ball just 21 times for 89 yards and two touchdowns in his first AU season. However, a strong relief effort at LSU, combined with good work in practice late in the season along with an injury to starter Carnell "Cadillac" Williams have opened the door for the sophomore.
Chris Butler runs the football in Saturday's practice.
"That is a real possibility," says Coach Tommy Tuberville when asked if he expected Butler to be a bigger part of the offense vs. North Carolina in the Peach Bowl. "He is coming on and playing better. He is somebody we are watching closely."
Butler looked quick and strong running the ball after taking nearly a two-week break with the rest of his teammates. The Tigers will practice through Friday before taking a break for Christmas and the drills are expected to offer many opportunities to run the ball vs. the first or second team defense. On Saturday, he had several nice runs and showed good hands catching the ball.
"I am glad we are in the Peach Bowl and we are looking forward to playing North Carolina," Butler says. "We are just trying to work hard and get ready. I am just trying to prepare myself to get ready to play."
Butler has come a long way since two-a-days when he was injured and discouraged. He briefly decided to give up football to return home to be with an ill family member, but had a change of heart and was welcomed back by the AU staff. However, his brief absence dropped him down the depth chart and he has seen just spot duty this season.
However, he has definitely made strides in several areas. When asked about that, he says, "I have improved catching the ball because I had a little problem doing that. And, just being patient and learning the type of offense we have at Auburn you have to be patient. You can't just hit the hole at 100 miles per hour and I had a tendency to try to do that and not letting things develop."
Butler says he wants to see his 7-4 team close the season with a win for several reasons and this is a big week of practice. "It is very important," he says. "I think it is important in preparing myself to get ready for North Carolina and helping this ball club to win. Plus, it is another opportunity for the seniors. We want to have them going out on a winning note.
"Every game is important. When I get my opportunity to go out there I want to make the best of it and make something happen. If I get the chance, I am most definitely going to do that."
Marcel Willis runs with the football during scrimmage work on Saturday as Travaris Robinson gives chase.
Tiger Ticket Extra: In addition to Deandre Green missing the practice following his indefinite suspension, several other key players were not available for practice on Saturday due to a variety of reasons. Fullback/linebacker Brandon Johnson was gone to be in his brother's wedding and defensive end Alton Moore had to attend a funeral. Offensive linemen Kendall Simmons, Hart McGarry and Ben Nowland, all starters, attended Auburn graduation ceremonies to pick up their degrees. That gave plenty of practice time to the backup linemen. Redshirt freshman guard Nate French won praise from coach Hugh Nall during the practice...Senior quarterback Daniel Cobb attended both Saturday practices instead of taking the day off to celebrate earning his degree. Cobb threw a long touchdown pass to tailback Casinious Moore in the evening practice at Jordan-Hare Stadium while working with the second offense vs. the second defense. However, he was intercepted several plays later by cornerback Junior Rosegreen...Tuberville called off the Saturday night running drills to follow practice after putting the pressure on Damon Duval to make a 50-yard field goal. If he missed it, the team would have to run. Duval's kick down the middle, after missing one from the same distance, brought shouts of joy from the Tigers.