Tigers Ready To Dance On Homecoming

The Tigers will face Western Kentucky Saturday afternoon at 1:30 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn, Ala.–-Auburn put the finishing touches on the gameplan for Saturday's homecoming game against Western Kentucky Thursday with a short practice in shorts and shoulder pads. Coach Tommy Tuberville said the week has been a good one for his team as the Tigers get ready for their final non-conference game of the 2005 season.

"It's looks like we're going to be close to 100 percent," Tuberville said. "It has been a good week of practice. It has been hot, but the guys have pushed through it pretty good. We're obviously going to play in a little heat Saturday unless the hurricane affects us a little bit. We're ready to go."

The Tigers will be without the services of several key players on Saturday as starting wide receiver Courtney Taylor will miss the game with an ankle injury as well as sophomore noseguard Josh Thompson. In addition true freshman tight end Tommy Trott will miss the game with a strained neck. All are expected back for next weekend's contest against South Carolina.

Tez Doolittle will again see plenty of action with Thompson sidelined.

An injury that could have an impact on the Tigers Saturday is a strained hamstring by starting punter Kody Bliss. Held out of Thursday's practice once again, Tuberville said the junior should be ready to go, but if not he has no concerns about putting back-up Patrick Martyn in the game.

"Kody can punt," Tuberville said. "We'll have to wait and see how he does in practice (pre-game). The doctors said there was no reason for him to punt (Thursday). He's punted a million of them from the first of August until now. We're just trying to get him 100 percent so he doesn't get out there and blow it out. Patrick has been kicking well. I told Kody he better hurry up and get back out there. It's good to have a guy like Patrick. He's worked real hard and he's really improved since he's been here."

With Travis Williams back on the field this week the linebackers will get back to their familiar positions as Karibi Dede moves back to the strong side and will likely start ahead of junior Kevin Sears with Antarrious Williams on the weak side. Still the Tigers plan to play at least seven linebackers in the game with freshmen Merrill Johnson, Chris Evans and Courtney Harden all getting some action. Tuberville said the group has really played well despite making some rookie mistakes last week.

"I went back and watched the film again today," Tuberville said. "I'm really impressed by the athletic ability of all three of them. We're making a ton of mistakes, especially on pass coverage. We're over-pursuing, we're not staying in our gaps some, but the athletic ability is there. They're playing hard and they've gotten some valuable experience in the last few games and hopefully they'll keep getting some experience because they're going to be our group for next year. They're going to have to play a good bit, at least some of them."

Auburn's offense has been up and down this season with new starter Brandon Cox at the helm. Despite throwing for 342 yards in the opener against Georgia Tech, Cox turned the ball over five times and the offense had several mistake that cost the team dearly in scoring situations. Since that time the offense has improved game management and played a near flawless game last week against Ball State although against inferior competition. Offensive coordinator Al Borges said that this team has really concentrated on getting better in practice and it is showing on the field.

"Coaching is about emphasis," Borges said. "Everything is about emphasis. Our emphasis after the first game was obviously to cut out turnovers and reduce the penaities. In practice we try to really hammer that. I think it's happened pretty well. You have to pick something. You can't emphasize everything.

"You've got to pick something where you need to improve the most and really focus on it, and the kids will listen. If you're screaming and hollering about every single deal usually it goes in one ear and out the next. We were really adamant about cutting those turnovers down and reducing those penalties. I think that has had something to do with it."

Auburn will have a short walk-through on Friday before Saturday's homecoming contest against Western Kentucky. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and there is no television for the contest. Ranked number one in I-AA, WKU enters with a record of 2-0 on the season.

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