Tuberville Says Tigers Have Plenty Of Work To Do

Auburn's Tommy Tuberville said Tuesday that while his team did some good things in the opener, they have a lot of work to do before game number two against Mississippi State.

Auburn, Ala.-–Following Auburn's loss to Georgia Tech Saturday night, coach Tommy Tuberville said that it was mistakes that cost his team a victory. Three days later it's still the same story for the Tigers as they get ready to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs as Tuberville said that while his team did some good things they must improve if they expect to win this weekend.

"We'll improve all year long," Tuberville said. "There were flashes of having a good football team at times, but there weren't enough of them. That's what you do, you work on the things to correct your mistakes, but also work on things to make you better. We threw the ball well down the field on offense, but we didn't run it as well as we would have hoped. Georgia Tech had something to say about that.

"Everybody wants to know ‘why didn't you run the ball as much'. Well, when they put them all up there you don't run it you throw it. We were a few plays away from winning that football game. We went all the way to the end even though we didn't play near as good as our potential. There were a lot of bright spots, but we don't have a lot of time to rest. No excuses, we'll just go into this week and do the same things, but just try to do them better."

This week in practice the Tigers will work on the things that were problems in Saturday night's game. Among those are tackling and staying in the correct rushing lanes on defense and running the football on offense. Tuberville said that the main thing the Tigers will be working on though is the mental aspect of the game.

"The biggest adjustment we've got to make is to be focused on every play," Tuberville said. "Our continuity was real shallow last week. We weren't consistent. We were our own worst enemy on several drives. We were moving the football and basically stopped ourselves. It doesn't make any difference whose defense you have over there, if you're going to stop yourself you're going to end up punting the football or turning it over. We can't worry about the teams we're playing. In today's practice we'll worry about more mental concentration, mental preparation."

Expect to see more emphasis on the running game this week with players like Kenny Irons (pictured above) and Carl Stewart getting more action in the backfield.

On the injury front the Tigers are banged-up with several players held out of Monday's practice because of soreness. Tuberville said that although it appears to be a problem only one player is questionable for Saturday's game.

"We've got a lot of guys that are beat up," Tuberville said. "Only one possibility that might not see playing time, Josh Thompson (high ankle sprain), but he's coming on pretty good. He could practice by tomorrow, but he's going to be limited because he turned his ankle. He played the whole game."

Because of that expect the Tigers to get several more players involved on both sides of the ball, particularly on the defensive front where Thompson, Tommy Jackson and Wayne Dickens were the only three players to see action against the Yellow Jackets. Players such as Neil Brown, Pat Sims, Tez Doolittle and true freshman Sen'Derrick Marks are all getting prep work this week to get them ready for action against Mississippi State.

"We've got to get into a two-deep rotation on most areas on the team," Tuberville said. "We just weren't able to do that the other night because a lot of those guys were behind and weren't game ready for that situation. But, we've got to force ourselves to do it."

That will be important this weekend as the Tigers play at 11:30 a.m. on Jefferson Pilot against a much-improved Bulldog squad. Winners over Murray State last Saturday by the score of 38-6, Mississippi State has confidence they can win this weekend and Tuberville said you can see that in the way the team plays this season.

"I have been very impressed by how Coach (Sylvester) Croom is building his program. You can tell he's taking it in small steps. Each game they played last year they got better and were very competitive. We were fortunate that we were able to play them early and we caught them before they got in a groove. I know they weren't as successful last year as they wanted to be, but they got better each week.

"This year they know their offense and defense a lot better. They have an opportunity this year to be much-improved and win a lot of games. I'm sure they're looking forward to playing us this week after watching us on film this past weekend."

To get ready for the game the Tigers will practice early in the afternoon to get a feel for playing football in the midday heat. Tuberville said that's something he wanted to do after watching his team struggle at the end of the Georgia Tech game.

"Today (Tuesday) we're practicing at three o'clock," Tuberville said. "We had meetings early this morning, normally we have meetings at 2:30, but this morning we went early. We put our gameplan in one the board with the players. We're practicing today at three to get more of a look of playing in the heat of the day. Probably we'll do the same thing tomorrow, it just depends on how much we get done today."

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