Defensive coordinator David Gibbs said it was easy to see the intensity level rise with a SEC game on the horizon following back-to-back non-conference opponents.
"There was a little more enthusiasm, a little more emotion out there today," Gibbs said. "The kids understand, especially after watching the game last night (LSU-Tennessee). Anybody who is involved in any kind of football program, watching those two teams go at it like they did, gets everybody rejuvenated and refocused. We had a good practice. We got after it pretty good today."
Quarterback Brandon Cox gets in a little running during Tuesday's practice.
The good news on offense was the return of quarterback Brandon Cox for Tuesday's practice. Held out of the Western Kentucky game after a virus pushed his temperature to 103 degrees, Cox was back at full speed on Tuesday and said he's felt much better since his visit to the hospital on Saturday.
"Sunday I was a little sluggish," Cox said. "Yesterday and today I woke up and felt fine. Dr. (Mike) Goodlett said he's had several people come in with the same thing. He said they're sick for four hours and fine after that.
"Once I left the hospital I felt like I could have possibly gone in and played," he added. "After the medicine wore off I had another fever later in the night and I felt a little queasy. I never threw up or anything like that again, but I felt 100 times better than I did Saturday morning."
Auburn appears to be getting healthy at the right time with just receiver Courtney Taylor questionable for Saturday's game against South Carolina. After suffering a high ankle sprain on the first play of the game against Ball State, Taylor had not practiced until Tuesday when he did a little practicing after loosening up the ankle on an exercise bike, but his status is still uncertain for the game. Tight end Tommy Trott returned to practice and is expected to be ready for Saturday's game.
Back and ready to go on defense are linebacker Travis Williams along with Josh Thompson and Stanley McClover. Two of Auburn's key defensive lineman, Thompson and McClover both have been out since halftime of the season opener with ankle injuries while Williams missed a week with a turf toe injury. McClover tried to return last weekend against Western Kentucky, but played just one play before coming out of the game. All three practiced Tuesday and appeared to be close to full speed and that's good news Gibbs said.
"It's very important," Gibbs said. "They looked good out there today. I think the biggest improvement to me from a week ago until today is Travis Williams. He was still gimped up last week but went out there and fought through it and played through it. He looked fast today. Those three guys are an integral part of what we do."
Defensive end Stanley McClover should be ready to go this Saturday night.
Defensively the game will be a challenge for the Tigers facing the offensive mind of Steve Spurrier. While the talent level isn't as good as his teams at Florida during his run in the 1990s, Gibbs said that he knows Spurrier will have his team ready no matter their record coming into the contest and no matter what kind of defenses Auburn has planned for him.
"We're two irrelevant pieces to the big puzzle," Gibbs said of his match-up against Spurrier. "I want our guys to go out there and play hard and play good. The truth of the matter is the calls are irrelevant. The kids have to get out there and execute. Your job is to get those kids ready to execute no matter what you call. It doesn't matter really who is coaching on the other side.
"Obviously the guy has had a tremendous career and is one of the greatest offensive minds in the history of the game," he added. "Shoot, if it was just me and him I wouldn't have a chance. I'm counting on the players to go out there and execute and play hard and play good."
With starter Blake Mitchell banged up and back-up Antonio Heffner getting most of the reps in practice in Columbia, Gibbs said that the Tigers will prepare to see both in Saturday night's game. Different styles of quarterback with Mitchell and drop-back guy and Heffner a runner, the Tigers will need to be ready for anything when the game kicks off.
"Just because you study and watch him and what kind of plays he runs," Gibbs said of Spurrier, "you don't ever have the same players. He doesn't ever have the same players so everything is different. He's always tweaking and changing things. Obviously this week if they change quarterbacks more things will change. You've got to prepare your kids for all kinds of stuff and they have to go out there and execute."
Auburn will practice Wednesday and Thursday before using Friday for a short walk-through. Saturday's game is scheduled for 6 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN2. The Gamecocks will be looking for their first victory against Auburn since 1933 and first victory ever at Jordan-Hare Stadium.