Tigers Move Player To Shore Up Depth Concerns

A position change highlighted Thursday's practice as the Tigers get ready for the Mississippi State game on Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.–-Except for a short walk-through on Friday the Auburn Tigers wrapped up preparations for the Mississippi State game on Thursday with a practice in shorts and shoulder pads.

While the gameplan for this week is in, coach Tommy Tuberville said that the coaches made a position move before the practice that could benefit the defense down the road by moving freshman tight end Andrew McCain to defensive tackle.

"We're just going to look at him," Tuberville said. "The main thing is that we were getting short there. Wayne Dickens had been hurt during two-a-days and Tommy Jackson was beat up some. Then Josh (Josh Thompson hurt his ankle during the opener against Georgia Tech). We're just looking for an avenue where we don't run out going down the stretch.

"We've watched his aggressiveness and how he's practiced. He was real quick off the ball. That's where he played in high school. He was the obvious choice to bring over. He won't play there this week, but we'll look at him in the next few weeks and see if he can help us. If he can then we'll play him."

Andrew McCain is a big, physical player that could help the Tigers in the middle of the defense this season.

With Thompson able to play this weekend, but likely not at full speed, the Tigers will go into the contest looking for more bodies up front on defense. That initiated the move of McCain, but Tuberville said they need some help this week from the back-ups in the middle after a long night against Georgia Tech.

"We were playing a lot of young guys as it was," Tuberville said. "The more you put out there the more chances you have of making mistakes. It's human nature that when we started making mistakes you look around for somebody to put in and the next guy you grab, he hasn't been in there either. It was a natural reaction.

"Especially on offense, we haven't played that many anyway but we do have more that we can play. We've got to force ourselves to play them and get them in the game. Eddie (Gran) has more running backs. Last year he really played two or three with Carl (Stewart), but now he's got four. We've got to get in some kind of rotation to get those guys in the game because they're not going to get any experience if we don't."

Spending a great deal of time on special teams, the Tigers spent Thursday polishing up the gameplan for the Bulldogs and also correcting the mistakes that cost them against Georgia Tech. Tuberville said that overall it was a good week of work for his team as they try to keep a hot streak going in conference play.

"We just worked on the little things," Tuberville said. "Cadence, staying onside, all of the little things that last week kept us from scoring more points. Again it's not who we're playing, it's about us. We have to continue to work on that.

"I thought our kicking game was excellent all week. We had some major mistakes last week, but nothing we can't correct. We've just got to go in and play a better ball game this week. It's the SEC opener and I can see it in our guys' eyes, they're excited about playing in this game. They're looking forward to trying to get back and defend their SEC Championship from last year. It should be a great day."

Something the Tigers remain committed to is throwing the football even though mistakes in the passing game cost Auburn dearly against the Yellow Jackets. In particular, Auburn's offense wants to continue to take shots down the field, Tubeerville said, and he said they're going to make sure that happens.

"Last week we threw it down field probably more than I have ever seen, probably 7-10 times," Tuberville said. "We want to hit on one or two of them. We came really close last year.

"I can't remember a game where we didn't hit at least one of them. That's the nature of our offense. The way we get coverages and the big receivers we have we've got to throw the ball downfield. We'll keep doing it and hopefully it works and we'll connect on some of them. It's a low percentage pass, but Brandon this time last year probably couldn't have done that. I thought he threw some good balls last week. I thought there were two of three that we could have caught that were just a little bit off target."

Kickoff for Saturday's game against Mississippi State is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and can be seen regionally on Jefferson Pilot Sports. The Bulldogs enter with a record of 1-0 after a victory over Murray State to open the season last week.

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