Tigers Struggle Home In Saturday Practice

Coach Tommy Tuberville said Saturday's practice was a test of wills for his football team as the hot weather made it a tough day.

Auburn, Ala.–-A longer than normal preseason began to take its toll on the Auburn Tigers Saturday as Coach Tommy Tuberville said the team faded down the stretch due to the heat and humidity.

With temperatures in the mid to upper 80s and the ground saturated from almost two weeks worth of rain in the Auburn area, Saturday morning was similar to a sauna for the football team. That made practice tough for some and Tuberville said it was easy to see when the players hit the wall during practice.

"We had a good practice for about an hour and 45 minutes," Tuberville said. "Then the bear hit us. It got awfully hot out here. We had some guys that didn't finish up quite as good as we had hoped mentally, but we're coming along.

"It was a bunch of guys," he added. "This is a team sport. I would say about 25 percent of the guys kind of shut it down with about 30 minutes to go. Not by their choosing, they just let the heat affect them. It's going to affect everybody. It affects everybody in different ways. That's what I'm taking about with mental toughness. You have to be able to overcome it and concentrate in the fourth quarter. We've been pretty good at that in the past. This is no different than any group we've had every year, it's just this time of year you need the group to step up to the next level and carry their concentration all the way through practice. That's the reason you practice."

Tuberville's desire for more effort in practice was shown early on Saturday morning as he called the team up for a group meeting just minutes in the workout. The team then went through some spirited tackling drills with all but the quarterbacks, punters and kickers taking part. That got the energy level up for much of the practice until the heat began to take effect.

Tuberville calls the team together for a meeting during Saturday's practice.

After taking part in selected areas of practice on Friday, quarterback Brandon Cox went through the full practice on Saturday morning. Although he was held out of the end of skelly drills just to make sure they didn't overwork him, Tuberville said he was pleased with the work Brandon did while on the field.

"Brandon threw the ball well today," Tuberville said. "He threw the ball well today. He looks like he's close to 100 percent. He really threw it well."

Offensive coordinator Al Borges was also pleased to have Cox back on the field working full time. After having some time away from throwing to rest his arm, Borges said Cox was a little rusty, but overall it was a pretty good day.

"I think other than one throw, other than that he looked pretty good," Borges said. "He's still getting back a little bit. The arm felt good though. He really held up pretty well. He did everything but the very tail end of the skelly. There wasn't any problem, it was just so we knew we had him for a full team period. He held up very well."

Also on the practice field was running back Carl Stewart. After receiving a scare on Friday when he fell on his wrist and was taken for x-rays, Stewart took part in the entire practice on Saturday while wearing a brace on his left wrist. Tuberville said he did well and looked to have no ill effects from his fall.

"Carl Stewart had a good day," Tuberville said. "The x-rays were negative. He practiced great and ran the ball well with no fumbles. His wrist was a little sore, but it was just a severe sprain. He didn't miss a beat."

Both defensive end Marquies Gunn and Stanley McClover again sat out of Saturday's practice with hamstring strains. Tuberville said that Gunn is running close to full speed and should be back practicing on Sunday. McClover is scheduled to return early next week, perhaps on Tuesday following Monday's day off.

Saturday marks the two-week mark before Auburn opens the season against Georgia Tech on Sept. 3 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Despite having some key players miss practice time during two-a-days and last week, Tuberville said he feels like his team has made strides since opening camp and he's looking forward to seeing them progress once they focus on Georgia Tech towards the end of next week.

"We made progress," Tuberville said. "Are we good enough to beat anybody yet? I don't know. The guys have worked hard. I'm a little bit concerned mentally about staying in it for four quarters with these hot, humid days, but that means you have to play more guys. You can practice in it and do all you can. We just have to wait and see how that unfolds. It has been tough mentally and physically.

"We've got a good, tough team, but we've got to get a little bit tougher to start this stretch. That's what I worry about going in is the toughness because you're a tired team on both sides and the kicking game. That's one of the reasons we came out in the heat of the day, to get a dry practice plus to get our legs beneath us a little bit before we get back after it tomorrow night."

Auburn will practice under the lights on Sunday night with a practice scheduled to begin at 6:45. The team will work out for about half of the practice behind the athletic complex before heading to the stadium to have the 11-on-11 portions of the practice.

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