Tigers Begin Preparations For Hokies

Auburn spent its first Sugar Bowl practice introducing the gameplan on both sides of the ball.

Auburn, Ala.—-Following a 10-day break for final exams, the Auburn Tigers got back to work on Thursday with a two-hour practice in full pads as they begin preparations for the Nokia Sugar Bowl where they will face the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Working on all phases of the game, including special teams, Auburn got down to business as the Tigers began to get a feel for the gameplan for Virginia Tech . Coach Tommy Tuberville said the team was a little rusty, but worked hard as they begin to get over the BCS situation and get back to work on the field.

"We can't do anymore than what we've done," Tuberville says. "We're going to keep doing what we've been doing and enjoy what we've accomplished and go down and enjoy the rewards that these guys have earned."

Offensive coordinator Al Borges echoed the sentiments of Tuberville when asked about Thursday's practice. Amazed all season long by the focus of this team, Borges said that the practice was just like he had seen all season long from a team that refuses to have a bad day.

"They practice the same way all the time and they're going to play the same way in the game," Borges said. "It was great to get back to practice. I loved it because I've been in for the last week and a half. I haven't been on the road. It was good to see somebody else for a change. I haven't seen anybody in a week and a half. Just to be on the practice field with the players and coaches was kind of nice."

Tuberville talks with Carlos Rogers during Thursday's practice.

Because of that the gameplans for both the offense and defense are a long way from being complete because of the input of both staffs to Borges and defensive coordinator Gene Chizik. Borges said that the rest of this week will be spent solidifying a plan for the Hokies.

"Everybody has been recruiting," Borges said. "When I leave ya'll I'm going to meet with the coaches. I haven't been able to get with the coaches. I've got a million ideas because I've been in and they haven't been looking at Virginia Tech. In terms of a gameplan we're still just starting."

Auburn's injury situation looks promising after the long layoff as center Jeremy Ingle practiced on Thursday and moved as good as he has since injuring his ankle against Kentucky. Wide receiver Anthony Mix didn't take part in Thursday's practice, but was running on the side trying to get his injured knee back to full strength. He should be fine for practice later in the preparations for the Sugar Bow.

A player that has been healthy all season and kept Auburn's defense from getting sick is cornerback Carlos Rogers. Fresh off winning the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back, Rogers was on the practice fields Thursday and took a lot of kidding from coaches and teammates for his appearances on television the last few weeks. Tuberville said Rogers has done an outstanding job representing Auburn in his time in the spotlight.

"He's been busy and selected to all the All-American teams and gotten a lot of awards," Tuberville said. "He's handled it well. To win the Thorpe Award, that's a special award because you're recognized nationally at a position. It's a thrill for him and what he's done. He's really earned it."

Auburn will return to practice on Friday and practice Saturday morning as well before taking Sunday off. The team will resume practices on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before breaking for the Christmas holidays. The team reports to New Orleans on Dec. 28 and will begin practicing the next day. Kickoff for the Jan. 3 Sugar Bowl is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Tiger Ticket Extra:

Tray Blackmon

Standout linebacker Tray Blackmon was a visitor to Auburn for Thursday's practice to check out the action. A commitment to the Tigers, the nation's number one linebacker spent time with Chizik and linebacker coach Joe Whitt during the practice. He also talked to several future teammates on the defensive side of the ball and also seniors Rogers and Junior Rosegreen.

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