Tigers Begin Preparations For Volunteers

Auburn practiced in full pads on Saturday as the tigers get ready for the SEC Championship game against Tennessee.

Auburn, Ala.—-Trying to beat an afternoon of expected rain in the Auburn area, the third-ranked Tigers (11-0) practiced for just over two hours in full pads Saturday morning as they begin preparations for the Tennessee Volunteers. Coach Tommy Tuberville said his team looked fresh after taking the week off for Thanksgiving.

"It was good to have everybody back and it was a good practice," Tuberville said. "Today we just started putting in the game plan. We went in full pads and had a lot of contact. It was a very physical practice, as we will tomorrow. We've have two physical practices and then we'll take Monday off and go Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

"We went through all of our kicking game," he added. "The coaches have gotten all of the game plan together. Today we're going to have two meetings. Tomorrow we'll have a lot of meeting time to make sure everything is put in before Monday. It was good to have a week off. Our guys needed it and our coaches needed it. Now we've got our tanks filled up and ready to go for this week."

Christopher Browder and Doug Langenfeld take a break with the defensive line during Saturday's practice.

While Auburn has been able to take some time off to rest after victories over Georgia and Alabama, Tennessee has been preparing for the Kentucky Wildcats all week. Tuberville said that's an advantage for his team.

"It's an advantage just to get people healthy," he said. "I don't think it's an advantage not playing because of timing, but the last time we had a week off we played pretty good before the Georgia game. There are some pluses and minuses to it, but this does give us a few extra days to get ready."

Playing in the Georgia Dome for the title game, the Tigers will be playing on artificial turf for the second time this season. In the first at Ole Miss Auburn had problems early with footing before settling in and playing well the rest of the way. Tuberville said the team would practice almost exclusively on its turf practice field this week to make sure there are no problems in the championship game. That makes a big difference said defensive lineman Tommy Jackson.

"It helps a lot," Jackson said. "We're glad they brought this field in. It really gives us a great look on what the Georgia Dome will be like. It's real exciting that we're getting to practice on it and when we go play there it might be a little different, but at least we get a feel for it with our timing as far as running stunts. It's a real big help to us."

Auburn's injury situation appears to be good as just linebacker Antarrious Williams missed Saturday morning's practice. The junior sat out of the Alabama game with a wrist injury and is likely out for the SEC title game tilt with Tennessee. Center Jeremy Ingle practiced and looks to be in good health and ready to go for next weekend's game. Tuberville said only Williams looks to be questionable for the Vols.

"It's probably doubtful he'll play," Tuberville said. "I hope that he starts back to practice and maybe he can play special teams or something like that. We're hoping to get him back, we'll just have to wait and see."

If Williams is unable to go the Tigers would start senior Derrick Graves again as he did against Alabama. Tuberville said that could be a positive for Auburn considering they're facing a physical team in Tennessee with two good backs.

"Derrick is probably better against the run because he's bigger and more physical," Tuberville said. "A.T. is a little bit quicker and is kind of like playing a nickel back most of the time you play. Derrick has a lot of experience. He's played well and played well last week. If Antarrious is not 100 percent Derrick will do a good job this week like he did last week."

Auburn will practice Sunday afternoon before taking its normal Monday off and settling into the game week. Kickoff for next Saturday's SEC Championship game against Tennessee is scheduled for 5 p.m. Central and can be seen on CBS.

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