Tigers Have Shortened Friday Practice

New Orleans, La.–-Practicing for the third time since arriving in town and with three days still remaining until the Jan. 3 Nokia Sugar Bowl, Coach Tommy Tuberville took it easy on his team Friday with an abbreviated practice inside the Superdome.

He said that his team just needed to back off a little bit because there's still so much time left before the game.

"Today we had a nice short practice," Tuberville said. "It was kind of like a Wednesday during a game week. Normally we do a little bit more than this, but we've got everything in and we're starting to get a little bit stale in some things we're doing. We want to cut back to get these guys' attention a little bit better. We went about an hour and a half.

"We're going to spend more time tomorrow on special teams, that's going to be a key to the game. These guys are pretty much focused. We start getting their legs back today and getting their focus more on Virginia Tech. It has been a good week so far. We've still got a long ways to go until the game, but these guys have done well on and off the field."

One thing the coaching staff has watched very closely this season is the team attitude heading into a game. Unlike many teams, Auburn doesn't usually get too high during the week, instead saving it for the games. Tuberville said that's a tough thing to handle for a bowl game because of the extra time spent practicing and getting ready for the opponent.

"They've had such a good time and I have tried to sway away from spending too much time with these guys in meetings or practice," Tuberville said. "We've given them a lot of free time and let them enjoy themselves. We've got plenty of time to get ready to play the game and you don't want to play it too early. After today we're going to start to focus more on, other than having the fun part, getting ready to focus on the game Monday night."

Tight end Cooper Wallace kicks a 40-yard field goal before Friday's practice.

Much of the talk leading up to this week of practice has been about Auburn's ability to focus on Virginia Tech after being kept out of the BCS title game in the Orange Bowl. The same talk came out of California for the last month and was silenced when the Golden Bears were bombed by Texas Tech on Thursday. Tuberville said watching the game and seeing how Cal responded was a lesson for the Tigers.

"We just talked about that," Tuberville said. "California didn't look like they played as well as they could. They could have, but you never know. It's one of those where it's an eye opening experience for the coaches. We watched most of the game, but it was one of those where it wasn't much of a contest. That can happen in any bowl game because it's such a long period of time it's all about execution. The team that executes Monday night will win this game also.

"We're obviously not taking Virginia Tech lightly," he adds. "They've got a good team, maybe better than us and maybe better than any team in the country the way they're playing at the end of the year. They've been playing real well. Our team has really prepared well. We'll play well and we'll see if it's going to be good enough."

Something that has helped the Tigers avoid overlooking opponents and trap situations has been the influence of a strong senior class led by Campbell, running backs Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown as well as linemen like Danny Lindsey. Lindsey says that having a group to guide the way like this senior class makes preparing for games much easier than in past years.

"I think with the 18 seniors we've got and all the leadership we have on this team it's just a will to come out here and practice hard and it carries over to the game," Lindsey said. "This whole year we've had a bunch of great practices. We've had our ups and downs since we've been here. We had a great practice today and I think that will carry over to the game."

Kickoff for the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 3 is scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be seen on ABC.

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