Young Tigers Getting A Shot In Practice

Auburn has taken advantage of some early practice time to give several young players a shot at catching the coaches' eyes in pre-bowl workouts.

Auburn, Ala.—-The Auburn Tigers continued their work towards the Nokia Sugar Bowl with a longer than normal practice on Monday in full pads. Coach Tommy Tuberville said that the day was a good one and the health of the team is improving with one of the starting wide receivers back from injury suffered in the SEC Championship game.

"It was a good practice," Tuberville said. "It was a little cool. Anthony Mix practiced today. It was good to see him back out there (after spraining his knee). Everybody is in pretty good shape. We've got most of our game plan in. We still have a lot of work to do, but we do have two more of work before we go home for the holidays."

Antarrious Williams

This week has been a time to get some of the younger players involved in practice and get a head start on next year, but one of the young defensive standouts has taken advantage of an injury to move into the playing rotation. Linebacker Montavian Collier is expected to share time with Derrick Graves at weakside linebacker after starter Antarrious Williams was lost for the remainder of the season after an injury during the Georgia game. Williams says that he's now turned into a coach for Collier and others after deciding not to play any more this season.

"We just decided that it was best that I not play," Williams said. "We didn't want to risk it going into the game so right now I'm just going to be out there coaching and helping these guys prepare for Virginia Tech."

Injuring himself on a solid hit early in the Georgia game, Williams played the rest of the way against the Bulldogs, but that would be it for the season. He said the injury is one that he wants to make sure it's healed fully before returning to action so his senior season is not jeopardized.

"It's called a subluxation, but it's basically just a bone in my wrist that was dislocated," Williams says. "They had to go in and fix it basically. We're just waiting on it to heal, which is going to take a while. We're just trying to make sure it heals properly and we don't want to risk it because that would slow the process down."

Carl Stewart

Another player that is taking advantage of the practice time this week is running back Carl Stewart. A redshirt freshman, the 6-2, 217 Stewart has been involved in the offense this year as a back-up to Ronnie Brown as the hybrid tailback/fullback and has done a good job when called upon. He says that having a chance to watch Brown and Carnell Williams do their thing has been fun.

"We've got another game ahead of us, but we're definitely utilizing practice to see what we have for next year and trying to get these older guys to go out on a victory," Stewart said. "It's nice to have that (chance in practice). I think it's a really good opportunity for us to get more apt to the offense and more comfortable with it overall for the spring.

"Just seeing them (Ronnie and Carnell) out there and performing in an offense, this is a unique offense and fun to watch, seeing those two go out there and do it and me feeling like I have the opportunity to do it next year is exciting. It really gets everybody excited about next year and the opportunity we have as a team."

The Tigers are scheduled to practice both Tuesday and Wednesday morning before breaking for Christmas. The team will resume practicing in New Orleans on Dec. 29. Kickoff for the Nokia Sugar Bowl is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Superdome.


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