Tuberville Looking For Improvement In Week Four

The Auburn head football coach comments on his team as the Tigers prepare for homecoming.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Tommy Tuberville says he wants to see the Auburn offense continue to develop as a group that can attack the weak spots in any defense the Tigers face the rest of the season.

"We are going to stay with our same plan," Tuberville says. "We want to be as much a running team as a passing team. We want to get better in both areas.

"Determined by what the defense asks us to do or takes away, we will do the other," he adds.

In game two, after struggling to run the football in the opener vs. Georgia Tech, the Tigers concentrated on their ground attack, even when Mississippi State's defensive alignments dictated pass. The Tigers managed to win the game 28-0 with the help of a touchdown scored by the defense.

Auburn adjusted its game plan to what Ball State was doing last week and the result was a 63-3 victory that included eight possessions by the offense, all which ended in touchdowns.

Auburn's coach says he has been "real pleased" with the improvement of first-year starter at quarterback, sophomore Brandon Cox. "He made a few mental mistakes last week, but if we continue to improve on that he is going to be right on target where we want him to be when we get to conference play next week."

Tuberville says that he hopes to have all of his players ready to see game action this week with the exception of junior wide receiver Courtney Taylor. Taylor injured his ankle on the opening play of last Saturday's game and was not able to return to the contest.

Courtney Taylor makes a play in the SEC Championship Game victory over Tennessee last season.

"It is a high ankle sprain and I am doing everything I can to get ready to play as soon as I can," Taylor says. "My goal is to be back for the South Carolina game. The Tigers will play the Gamecocks on Oct. 1 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Tuberville says he will be challenging his team to have a good week of practice to improve as an overall squad while preparing for a Western Kentucky team that the coach says is deserving of respect.

"You don't just get better in games, you get better in practice," he says. "Our guys have done a good job of doing that and working hard, knowing that it has been real hot."

Commenting on the Hilltoppers, he says, "They have played well, they are 2-0. They moved up to the No. 1 ranking in I-AA yesterday. They had last week off so we will get their best performance and they look like they are pretty healthy."

Other points the head coach made at his Tuesday press conference include:

*Tuberville may be headed to Washington, D.C., sometime this season to testify before Congress, which is looking into problems with college football's Bowl Championship Series (BCS). "They are trying to set it up so they can get coaches, athletic directors and presidents to come up at the same time, and you know how difficult that is during the season," he says.

*True freshman tight end Tommy Trott, who played last week for the first time vs. Ball State, is not 100 percent after suffering what the coach calls a "sprained neck" in the victory over Ball State.

*The blocking is "much improved" on the kickoff and punt returns compared to earlier this season and last year, the head coach says.

*Tuberville predicts that Western Kentucky will be a tougher opponent than Division I-A Ball State was last week "because they had so many problems off the field they just couldn't get focused on what they were doing on the field."

Ball State, a 63-3 victim to the Tigers, has been affected by suspensions of athletes in a variety of sports with the football team being particularly hard hit. Tuberville notes that Western Kentucky has experience at every position with a veteran QB who played at Auburn two seasons ago.

*Tuberville praised offensive tackle King Dunlap and guard Jonathan Palmer for their play in their first collegiate starts last week. Dunlap filled in for Marcus McNeill, who is expected to start this week. Palmer filled in for Tim Duckworth, who is also expected back for game four.

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