Things Heat Up For Auburn In Tuesday Practice

Auburn battled through brutal conditions during the final practice before school begins on Wednesday.

Auburn, Ala.-–It was the last day of practice before school is set to begin on the Auburn campus and the coaching staff got its money's worth with easily the hottest and toughest workout of the preseason to date for the Tigers. Following a rainy night on Monday the Tigers had to spend half of the practice on the turf field. The humidity was up and with a heat index of 98 degrees at the end of the practice coach Tommy Tuberville said it was a survival day for his team.

"It doesn't get any hotter than this on this turf," Tuberville said. "We try to stay off of it during the middle of the day, but we had no choice because we got so much rain last night. We lost them pretty early in team. Again, that's good . They've got to learn how to fight through hot weather. Our second game is going to be at 11:30. We have to get ready."

The hot temperatures combined with the balmy conditions caused cornerback Jonathan Wilhite some problems as he got overheated and was taken inside to cool down. Auburn players weigh in before and after each practice and to give you an idea of what happens to a player, offensive guard Timmy Duckworth weighed 321 heading into the morning practice. When he weighed in again following the two and a half hour workout he was down to just 306.

An unhappy Al Borges talks with Calvin Booker.

With quarterback Brandon Cox taking the morning off to give his tired arm more rest, all of the reps under center went to back-ups Blake Field and Calvin Booker. While it has been a dead heat for much of the preseason, Tuesday it appeared that Field had the better day and may have moved into the lead or at least made it a dead heat for the number two spot, something that could be decided within the week.

Although Field had a better day neither quarterback ran the offense efficiently, making for a long and unpleasant day for coordinator Al Borges. Dropped snaps and errant throws were commonplace on Tuesday, as was yelling by the normally laid back Borges. Tuberville said that while the day wasn't a great one, the Tigers got some things accomplished during two-a-days.

"It was not as good of a practice as we would have hoped today just having one practice, but we kind of lost our concentration today," Tuberville said. "We got a lot of things done in two-a-days and I think our guys were just looking forward to getting off for a day. We'll have meetings this afternoon and then off tomorrow. There may be a team meeting tomorrow night and we'll decide what we're going to do for Thursday's practice. It was a good two-a-days. We got a lot done. We need to get a few guys back."

Although not back to full speed, running back Brad Lester practiced on Tuesday.

Things got even worse at the end of the practice as the Tigers spent the last 10 minutes of the day working on special teams. Both John Vaughn and Zach Kutch kicked the ball well until the pressure was put on by Tuberville. The field goal team had 10 seconds to run on the field and kick the ball from 50 yards out. Making just one of two attempts would have kept the team from running, but Vaughn's attempt sailed just wide left and Kutch bounced his off the crossbar in front just inches short. Tuberville said that the kicking game has been solid and he's looking for big things out of special teams this season.

"He's kicking well," Tuberville said of Vaughn. "He's kicking as good as he ever has. We're punting as well as we have. It all looks good, but I've seen that all before. You get in a game and can't make anything. He ended up with a lot of confidence. I think he's got a chance to be a good one, he's just got to get it done."

The most interesting battles of each practice comes in the one-on-one pass rushing drills as the intensity level raises a notch when all eyes are on one match-up in the line. On Tuesday both starting tackles Troy Reddick and Marcus McNeill showed why they're at the top with solid days against rushing defensive ends. Back-up King Dunlap also had a good day. Defensively Tommy Jackson was good in the middle and true freshman Antonio Coleman used his speed well to get to the quarterback several times.

Auburn will take Wednesday off for the first day of school and resume practicing on Thursday in preparation for the season opener against Georgia Tech on Sept. 3. Thursday's practice will be closed to the public.

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