The Breakfast Club

The Auburn football Tigers get an early start on the 2005 season with early morning winter workouts.

Auburn, Ala.--On Thursday the Auburn football team will wrap up its predawn portion of its winter workout schedule as the Tigers make the transition to spring practice, which will start on Tuesday.

Coach Tommy Tuberville says the full squad workouts that start before the sun comes up in February are an important component of team-building.

Quarterback Brandon Cox runs through a drill.

"We want to get as many early morning workouts with the coaches, along with the weight training and conditioning staff as we can," Tuberville says. "We do it early in the morning for several reasons--mental discipline, toughness, getting them up and to get our players prepared for the day of academics.

"It is more for mental toughness than anything else," the coach adds. "We start at 6 a.m. and end at 7 a.m. It is a gut check, so to speak.

"We have done it as a staff going back to when we were coaching at Ole Miss," he says. "The upperclassmen understand it is more for the freshman guys who haven't been here. We kind of separate the haves from the have-nots. We put them in a situation where they understand what they are getting into the next month with spring practice."

Wide receiver Courtney Taylor sprints during the workout.

In addition to handling the early morning workouts, the players are heavily involved in their offseason weight room training, too, making the running drills even more challenging, especially after a full schedule of doing squats in the weight room a day earlier.

Although the workouts are officially scheduled to start at 6 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, at this stage of the season the football team is operating on YST (Yoxall Standard Time) time instead of CST (Central Standard Time). Any player not already on the football field at 5:50 a.m. is considered late by the strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall and his staff.

"Believe me, you don't want to be late," notes defensive ends coach Terry Price.

Sophomore Josh Thompson is expected to challenge for a starting job at noseguard this spring.

Tuberville goes from station to station watching individual position coaches put the players through quickness and agility drills. Individual players who aren't attacking that particular task with enough gusto hear about it from the position coaches who yell out their displeasure at a decibel level high enough that the offending party's transgressions can be heard by everybody on the field.

"We mix all of our players during the morning workouts," Tuberville notes. "We put offensive linemen with running backs. This is a team deal. We mix our defense with our offense. We want everybody to be around everybody. We want everybody to understand who is doing it and who isn't it and try to push each other.

The Tigers prepare to run a 45-yard sprint near the end of the workout.

"You build your leadership in the offseason and try to turn it over to your seniors," he adds. "We have got a good group of seniors. Travis Williams and Marcus McNeill are two guys who really stand out, but we have a lot more. This is where you start building your mental toughness and basically building your football team. If you have good winter workouts, it carries over to spring practice and to the voluntary workouts over the summer right into two-a-days. You can almost judge your season by how the month of February went."

Tuberville says that last year's pre-breakfast winter workouts were very good with a strong senior class leading the way. He says the 2005 seniors are off to a good start in the leadership department, too.

"We want the players to understand what it takes to be an Auburn Tiger," Tuberville adds. "You find out a lot about your leaders and your team when somebody is struggling and the others try to pull him along and you can watch how that player reacts to being pulled along. You find out a lot about your team."

Offensive coordinator Al Borges talks to the Tigers after Tommy Tuberville speaks at the end of Tuesday's workout.

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