Prevent Defense: Tigers Take Precautions For Ivan

Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville discusses Wednesday's practice and what the Tigers are doing to deal with Hurricane Ivan.

Auburn, Ala.–-With classes cancelled because of the threat of Hurricane Ivan, the Auburn Tigers took advantage of the situation to practice Wednesday morning and early in the afternoon before the rain associated with the storm hit the Auburn area.

Coach Tommy Tuberville said it was a positive for his team to get another full practice completed before the Tigers prepare to ride out the storm.

"We had a good practice," Tuberville said. "The practices have been good all week. I have been real pleased with the focus that the players have had. We're going, and have to go on the assumption that the game is going to be played at 2:30 until otherwise told. I think we'll play. We've got to prepare for it and have a lot of work to do. The number one thing now after we have all of our game plan in is to brush up. We'll have meetings and a walk-through the next 48 hours."

Because of the danger associated with a storm of this magnitude, Tuberville said the team, managers, staff and everyone associated with the team will stay in nearby hotels or the former athletic dorm, Sewell Hall, until the storm passes through Auburn. With travel likely to be a dangerous undertaking on Thursday, staying close by will allow the team to gather on Thursday at the football complex for meetings and to practice inside at the indoor facility.

"This afternoon the team will move into either the Heart of Auburn or the Conference Center," Tuberville said. "We want to make sure we have them all together where they don't have to drive in the weather (Thursday) because it's going to be pretty rough. We'll get them over in buses in the morning and get them in the bunker here. It's probably the safest place in town.

"The ones staying in Sewell Hall will stay there and then we'll have 40 or 50 in the Heart of Auburn and 40 or 50 staying in the Conference Center. For the next two days they'll do that. We'll have mostly meetings on Thursday. I don't think there's any chance we'll be about to go outside. We'll go in the indoor, we'll get whatever we want to get done in there."

Auburn linebacker Derrick Graves talks about staying out of harm's way with Ivan coming to town.

The change in plans is something the Auburn team has to deal with and for many players this will be a difficult week. One of those is senior linebacker Derrick Graves, who is the only member of the Auburn team that is married. Although it will be an inconvenience to stay in a hotel rather than at home, Graves said that it will be for the best because safety comes first.

"It's for safety reasons," Graves said. "Coach wants to make sure everybody is safe and that he can keep up with everybody. I think it's a good decision just to have that security. We have to keep our minds focused on the game, so that's why we're doing it.

"My mind is totally on LSU," he added. "I'm thinking she would (stay at the hotel). We live in a duplex. We had already bought candles, batteries for flashlights and extra jugs of water. We were already ready for it."

Graves said that despite the threat of severe weather and the uncertainty surrounding Saturday's game, the players have to remain as focused as possible to avoid a bad week of preparation. The fact that they're staying in hotels the next three days instead of at home is something they just have to deal with Graves said.

"You just have to discipline yourself," Graves said. "You have to know that it's going to be here. You have to make yourself focus. This is the time you have to become even more focused. Knowing that the streets might be closed off and the wind is going to be blowing hard, to have someone basically chauffeuring us around or driving us around, it kind of sets us at ease."

Despite the thoughts of the approaching storm and the questions concerning the game on Saturday, the Tigers had a good practice on Wednesday. Working in shorts and shoulder pads, Tuberville said both the offense and defense had solid days as they continue to install the game plan for LSU.

"We went mostly scout team," Tuberville said. "We went against each other for 16 plays at the end of practice. We had some individual work on all our special teams where it has to be outside. You need a full field for kickoff coverage, kickoff return, punt return and we can work on punt protection inside. We got all that done and kicked field goals for the last time today probably."

Although LSU appears to have been spared by the threat of serious weather and the Bengal Tigers have been able to practice interrupted, Tuberville said he doesn't believe this gives them any advantage in Saturday's game because of Auburn's situation.

"We've gotten good practices in and had good weather," Tuberville said. "We normally don't do much after Wednesday anyway. We've had plenty of practice time and have no excuses. Everybody has worked hard. The main thing now is just being able to keep focus for the next 72 hours."

Kickoff for Saturday's game is still scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and can be seen on CBS television. A decision on the game is expected be made by Friday morning.

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