Tigers Ready To Hit The Road

Coach Tommy Tuberville says his Auburn Tigers are ready to play their first road game of the season this weekend at Arkansas.

Auburn, Ala.-–Following a week off the 20th-ranked Auburn Tigers take to the road for the first time this season when they head West to face the Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday night in Fayetteville. Although the Tigers will have several key players starting for the first time ever away from Jordan-Hare Stadium, Tuberville says he feels like his team is ready to take its act on the road in the SEC.

"We've had five home games, but the road isn't that much different," Tuberville says. "You just have to keep your concentration. We won games on the road last year with a lot of these guys playing. Every game is a little different, obviously, but you just try to focus on yourself and don't lose concentration. I'm sure it will be loud there and that's the way it's supposed to be. It's supposed to be an advantage for the home team and I'm sure it will be. We can't worry about that. We just have to worry about ourselves."

That worry will begin on offense where sophomore Brandon Cox will get his first start on the road. In an offense that depends a lot on decisions made by the quarterback that could pose problems for the Tigers, but Tuberville says the offense should be fine despite the crowd noise expected at Razorback Stadium.

"We're ready to go," Tuberville says. "We might not do anything on offense, but it won't be because we're playing on the road. The one thing you have to do on that is just go in and run your offense and block it out. Communication won't be any problem between the sideline and Brandon, he'll just have to speak a little louder at times. The biggest thing this week we have to do is focus on what we're doing and not worry about anything but ourselves."

Defensive lineman Tez Doolittle is continuing to improve for the Auburn defense.

Offensively the Tigers will be very healthy with the return of wide receiver Courtney Taylor to practices this week. After playing against South Carolina despite a still tender ankle, Taylor sat out of several practices last week to make sure he's healthy for Auburn's six game run to end the season. Tuberville says that Taylor should be close to 100 percent for Saturday night's contest.

The same is true of Auburn's defense where noseguard Josh Thompson returns after also missing several days nursing a high ankle sprain. That is big for the defense as they prepare to face the powerful ground attack from the Razorbacks, who lead the SEC in rushing at 286 yards per game. That's nearly 100 yards better than second-place Georgia. Tuberville says that Thompson's health and the improved play of a back-up leave the Auburn defense in good shape this weekend.

"Tez Doolittle has been playing good so he's going to help at that position," Tuberville says. "Josh, I would say going into today's practice, he's about 90 percent. He just has a little soreness. What we're trying to do is get him closer to 100 percent because we have more games after this one. We want to get him close to 100 percent for the next six games, not just this one game. Tez is doing fine and he'll play a lot in that position."

An off week have given the Tigers a chance to get a head start on preparing for the Razorbacks in practice. That's something that coaches always relish because they get a chance to not only scout the opponent very well, but also self-scout themselves to pick up any tendencies or work on mistakes. Tuberville says after a week of doing that the team is anxious to get back on the field and see where it stands.

"We had good practices last week coming off a very, very good performance against South Carolina," Tuberville says. "Our momentum is going pretty good. We used last week to our advantage by getting some guys healthy and working on some things that we've added to the playbook on offense and defense.

"We had an opportunity to work on Arkansas more. We've got almost everything in that we want to do against Arkansas, but we'll add a few more things in the next couple of days. We want to look at the Monroe film because we're sure they changed some things. We'll tweak our gameplan a little bit. We're going to be totally rested. We're going into this game healthy and full speed."

That might not be good news for the Razorbacks as the Tigers have been on a serious roll since losing to Georgia Tech to open the season. In the four wins that have followed Auburn has outscored its opponents 176-24 with none of the points given up in the first half. Tuberville says that going into this game without having played in a close game recently isn't something he's concerned about.

"I would like to beat everybody like we beat South Carolina to be honest with you," Tuberville says. "You're not going to play that good every week. There are going to be a lot of challenges for us. We're not a great football team yet. We've improved, obviously since the first game we've gotten better.

"We don't focus too much about what we've done or what we're going to do in the future. We try to take it day-by-day. We just try to make ourselves better. We're going to take 65-70 guys to Fayetteville, put a gameplan in, play it, and see what we can do. It might be good enough. It might not be good enough."

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