Tigers Break Following Short Practice

Auburn had a short practice before breaking for two days to rest during its off week.

Auburn, Ala.–-With all coaches but head coach Tommy Tuberville and coordinators Al Borges and David Gibbs on the road recruiting, the Auburn Tigers wrapped up the off-week practices with a short one-hour workout in shorts and shoulder pads Thursday. Tuberville said it was the close to a good week for his team as they get ready for a road trip to Arkansas next Saturday.

"We got a lot done on the gameplan," Tuberville said. "I think the guys got away from it a little bit and relaxed and got away from it even though it wasn't a real tough first five weeks of conference games. Still, you have to put gameplans together. We've got a lot of young guys and their heads are spinning most of the time. We've caught up. Now we have to recruit today and tomorrow. The coaches have off Saturday and we'll come back Sunday."

To ensure that the team is as healthy as possible when the Tigers get back to work on Arkansas Sunday, several players were held out of Thursday's practice just to get an extra day's rest. Among them were wide receiver Courtney Taylor (ankle), center Steven Ross (knee), defensive lineman Josh Thompson (ankle) and safety Tony Bell (hamstring). Tuberville said he expects all of them to be back Sunday and ready to go against the Razorbacks.

Redshirt freshman Tray Blackmon has been impressive while playing on the scout team this fall.

Last season the Tigers played for nine consecutive weeks before having a week off. This time around the week off comes after Auburn's best performance of the year in a blowout win over South Carolina. While Tuberville admitted he wouldn't have minded continue playing, the off week is always welcome when playing in the SEC.

"I wouldn't have minded keeping on going," Tuberville said. "We're really not that bad beat up. You take it where you get it. There's not a lot you can do with it. I think for these younger guys that have really had to put a lot into it the last two months, they could use more of a mental break than a physical break."

One of the younger guys that has adapted well to increased playing time, both on offense and special teams, is redshirt freshman running back Brad Lester. Auburn's second leading rusher behind Kenny Irons, Lester has come on strong and is now pulling close to Irons in the race for the starting job.

"We're looking for consistency," Tuberville said. "Kenny has played well and Brad has played well. There's going to be an on and off again deal with both of those guys. They'll both be in the game at the same time as well as Tre (Smith) and Carl (Stewart). It's going to take more than one guy to get us through the next six games.

"Last week we had Kenny starting and this week it could be Brad, but it could change by mid-week of next week. You never know with young guys trying to learn the offense. It's a good situation to have. It's just like it was last year. There's not a lot of difference really between all four of them. I think the top two are a little quicker and Tre has been a little beat up."

Watching the scout teams on both sides of the ball during Thursday's practice several players stood out. On defense linebackers Trey Blackmon and Patrick Trahan both looked sharp and should be players to watch down the road for the Tigers. The same holds true of defensive ends Antonio Coleman and Alonzo Horton as well as cornerbacks Aairon Savage and Walter McFadden.

Offensively wide receiver Montez Billings has come on strong and made several good catches during the scout team portion of Thursday's practice. Also offensive tackle Oscar Gonzalez continues to show signs that he'll be a very good player for the Tigers down the road.

Auburn returns to practice Sunday afternoon and will take Monday off as part of the regular work week. The kickoff for next Saturday's game against Arkansas in Fayetteville is scheduled for 6 p.m. and there is no television for the game.

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