Tigers Looking Forward to Another SEC Test

Comments from Auburn's head football coach are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Tommy Tuberville says his team is excited about Saturday evening's Southeastern Conference matchup with the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium as Auburn tries to improve its league record to 2-0. The Tigers are 3-1 overall following back to back non-conference victories over the Ball State and Western Kentucky.

"They have been looking forward to getting back to the conference," Tuberville says. "We have been out of it for three weeks now. It is time to get back and try defend your championship.

"We are the defending champion and everybody is going to be looking at us to see where we are at," the coach adds. "We stumbled out of the blocks, but we have recovered. Now this is going to be our next major test to whether we have a chance to get back to Atlanta. So that is what they are looking at."

Saturday's game will be the first that Tuberville has coached against South Carolina since he came to Auburn for the 1999 season. He coached against the Gamecocks just one time at Ole Miss.

Auburn leads the series 4-1-1 with the lone loss coming on Dec. 2, 1933. Saturday's game will be just the second time the Gamecocks have played in Auburn.

"We're looking forward to South Carolina coming to town," Tuberville says. "It should be good ball game. We'll find out how much we've improved. This will probably be the best team we've played this year on both sides of the ball. We're going to have to cut our depth chart down to make sure we're ready to play a two-deep and not as many as we've played in the past."

The Tigers have played reserves much of the past two weeks since opening SEC play with a 28-0 victory over Mississippi State.

Blake Mitchell

The Gamecocks come into the contest following a 45-20 victory over Troy, but in that contest starting QB Blake Mitchell suffered an ankle sprain and is questionable for Saturday's game in Auburn.

"We don't know who's going to play at quarterback for them," Tuberville says. "It really doesn't make any difference. We have looked at what both of them have done in the games they've played in. Obviously, the quarterback (Antonio Heffner) is a little bit different than Mitchell. He's more of an active guy. We practice for all of the quarterbacks anyway. We'll have a game plan for both, so it doesn't make a lot of difference."

Mitchell has completed 71-109 passes for 916 yards with seven TDs and three interceptions for the 2-2 Gamecocks, who are 0-2 in the SEC. Heffner has hit 7-10 passes with one TD for 103 yards and no interceptions.

In other Auburn football notes:

*Walk-on junior Matt Clark is expected to get the starting assignment on kickoffs, winning the job over scholarship true freshman Zach Kutch. Clark has been the most consistent at getting the ball into the end zone. AU has also tried Kody Bliss on kickoffs, but he is currently concentrating on punting.

*Tuberville says he hopes that junior wide receiver Courtney Taylor will be able to play this week after missing last Saturday's game with an ankle sprain.

*The head coach says he is glad to get his starting quarterback back on the practice field. Brandon Cox missed the Western Kentucky game with a virus that sidelined him last Saturday. "Brandon is ready to go," the coach says. "He has been watching film. "I think he is going to have a heck of a year. We just need to keep him healthy."f


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