It was the Tigers' iniitial practice after returning from a five-day break for Christmas. "We did about the same practice we finished up with at Auburn last week," Coach Tommy Tuberville said. "It was probably the most physical practice we'll have here at the bowl site."
The two-and-half hour practice allowed the Tigers to get a feel for the artificial surface and get their bodies back into football mode. While Auburn was practicing in the comfort of the dome, North Carolina was practicing outdoors in 30 degree temperatures at the Georgia Tech practice facilities. The remainder of each team's practices will be at the Georgia Dome.
The Peach Bowl will be the second game indoors for Auburn this season. The Tigers lost 31-14 to Syracuse in the Carrier Dome way back on September 22. This time around, quarterback Jason Campbell said he is glad to have four full practices on the turf to prepare for the team's New Year's Eve game with North Carolina.
"In Syracuse, we really only had one day and that was game day," Campbell added. "The day before we just had a chance to walk around and throw a little bit, but we have an opportunity to have a full week on this turf in the Georgia Dome and I think that will be very good. I think by the time the game comes we'll be well prepared for it."
Offensive lineman Taylor Bourgeois and linebacker Jamal Greer visit a patient on the Tigers' hospital tour on Thursday.
Tuberville said following Thursday's practice that the Tigers would begin focusing more on the game plan for the Tar Heels at Friday's practice and use the team's next three workouts to try and get some key players healthy.
"Hopefully, we can get Robert Johnson back, he's beat up," Tuberville added. "Mark Brown is hurt and we have several guys who have nicks and bruises." Johnson and Brown were both at practice, but did not go full speed. Johnson has a pulled quad muscle while Brown is trying to recover from a nagging ankle injury.
The playing status of Carnell Williams for the Peach Bowl is still undetermined. The Tigers' leading rusher went through the entire practice, but did not have any contact. "We'll know more about Carnell tomorrow," Tuberville noted. "He didn't go full speed today (as far as) contact, but he did go full speed on running plays."
The Tigers had to hurry off the practice field and make a quick trip to the ESPN Zone in downtown Atlanta for the team's Welcome Party. The party capped off a busy first day of bowl week for Auburn.
Tiger Ticket Extra: The turf in the Georgia Dome is identical to the turf used in Auburn's indoor facility...The players are on their own Thursday night for entertainment. On Friday morning, the Tigers will be participating in a Fellowship of Christian Athletes breakfast at the Mariott Marquis...Tommy Tuberville will participate in a press conference on Friday with North Carolina head coach John Bunting. North Carolina will practice at the Georgia Dome Friday morning. The Tigers are scheduled to work out there for 2 1/2 hours on Friday afternoon. AU's team practices are closed to the general public...All team members reported to the team hotel on schedule by Wednesday evening...The first team offense squared of against the first team defense for a contact tune-up after a six-day layoff from practice.