Borges Likes Sunday Practice

Coach Al Borges talks about Auburn's preparations for Tennessee and about playing the Vols for the second time this season.

Auburn, Ala.—-Following what he called a sluggish practice on Saturday, offensive coordinator Al Borges said Auburn's practice on Sunday was just what he was looking for out of the team heading into Saturday's SEC Championship game in Atlanta's Georgia Dome against Tennessee.

In full pads for the second straight day, the Tigers had a physical practice and continued installation of the gameplan on both sides of the ball. With everyone healthy except linebacker Antarrious Williams, who is out for the game with an injured hand, Borges said he sensed the team taking a step towards being ready to play at a high level against the Vols.

"We didn't scrimmage, but we actually did some inside running drills and some crossover stuff," Borges said. "It's been pretty physical though. There has been no tackling. Yesterday was mediocre, but today was very good. Championship type practice, you could feel it today. The guys were pretty fired up and having a blast out there, it was fun. The coaches were having fun and the players were having fun.

"We were a little sluggish yesterday, but today was really upbeat," he added. "We got a lot of the gameplan taken care of. We got about 99 percent done with the gameplan, we've just got a few little deals like the two-minute. We put in a little more time today in the red zone. If we have a little more time we would like to work more in the red zone because that can always be a problem."

Stanley McClover gets physical Sunday during special teams work.

With an extra week to get ready for the Tennessee game Auburn decided to take most of the time off instead of practicing for the Vols. As a coach who's been around and played in all types of games and situations, Borges said that he believes Auburn did the right thing by not getting too in-depth with the gameplan too early.

"We'll put anywhere from eight to 10 (new) plays in," Borges said. "The one thing you have to be careful of is when you've got a bye sometimes you've got too much time on your hands. You study tape and say "ooh, I've got to try this". It turns into a candy store and if you eat too much candy you get sick. You've got to be careful about installing too much offense that might look good on tape, but the reality of it is that you could overload or saturate your guys.

"You put your gameplan in so early that it gets a little stale to the kids," he added. "You've got to be careful. It was great to have a few days because the novelty of the gameplan is still fresh. These two days were pretty good because we worked hard. Tommy is going to have them taper off the next few days just to get our timing back."

A no-nonsense coach on the field that likes to joke around with players on both offense and defense, Borges is just another in the line of coaches on this Auburn staff that like to keep things loose in practice. He said that it all starts at the top with the head coach Tommy Tuberville, who likes to keep the game just that, a game.

"I'm just convinced that's a big part of our success in this program," Borges said. "Tubs creates an environment where football is fun. Not all head coaches do that, I'm telling you right now. He creates an environment where football is fun and it's obviously the ultimate fun when you're winning. To give you the best chance to win you have to feel like the game is still a little bit fun. You have to have a lot of little boy in you to coach the game and you have to have a lot of little boy in you to play the game."

When the Tigers take the field Saturday they'll face a Tennessee defense that has struggled mightily the last two games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The Vols gave up 33 points to the Commodores and 31 to the Wildcats in wins, but they weren't impressive at all. It's the most points given up to Vanderbilt since 1987 and the most ever to the two teams in the same season. Borges said that despite what happened recently, he expects a dogfight against that same defense this weekend.

"They are so athletic," Borges said. "They've got guys that can rush the passer. They've got good cover corners and great team speed. The one thing I'm certain of, regardless of what happens, is that they're going to give it their best shot. They've got more than just the SEC Championship to play for after the first game. They are going to be as motivated, I think, as they've ever been for a football game.

"Everybody is assuming because of what we did the first time that it's going to happen again, and that's a bad assumption. If ever there is a trap game of for us this is it, and we can't let that happen to us. Tommy has really been very good with the team to explain that to them. We've got to play our butts off to win this game and I think our kids are convinced of that."

Kickoff for Saturday's title game against Tennessee is scheduled for just after 5 p.m. central time and can be seen on CBS.

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