Auburn Looking For Improvement Against Hogs

Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about the week of practice and getting ready to face Arkansas Saturday night in Fayetteville.

Auburn, Ala.-–With just two practice days left before taking on the Arkansas Razorbacks on the road, the Auburn Tigers had a good Wednesday practice in shorts and shoulder pads as they begin to put the finishing touches on the gameplan. Coach Tommy Tuberville says that he feels like his team is ready to get back on the field and see how much they've improved since a 48-7 thrashing of South Carolina two weeks ago.

"We really needed to play the next week after South Carolina to keep our momentum going, but you take them when they come," Tuberville says of off weeks. "It's time now to get back in the groove. The guys have practiced hard. We've pushed them hard and they've practiced hard. The coaches have really prepared for this game. We're all looking forward to seeing if we've improved."

The news for Auburn center Steven Ross isn't good as he practiced very little on Wednesday because of a strained hip flexor. That means that junior walk-on Joe Cope will likely get the starting job at center against Arkansas this weekend. There's also a chance that junior Jonathan Palmer could also see some time at center against the Razorbacks because of Ross' condition.

"Steven Ross took some snaps," Tuberville says. "He will play Saturday, but he'll be more in a back-up role. He'll be able to play. Steven will be second-team. He'll be ready to go. He's just sore, but will be much better by Saturday."

Other than the injury to Ross the Tigers are in good shape among the two-deep as both Courtney Taylor and Josh Thompson are back and close to full speed. There are several players still banged-up though that won't make the trip. Included in that group are defensive linemen Octavious Balkcom (ankle), Sen'Derrick Marks (ankle) and Neil Brown (neck spasms).

Defensive lineman Tez Doolittle works on defeating a cut block, something Arkansas does well as an offensive unit.

True freshman tight end Tommy Trott also continues to be bothered with a strained neck and won't travel either. Tuberville said that leaves the Tigers a little thin at tight end, but it's not something that will hurt them greatly on Saturday.

"Our first tight end is Cooper (Cooper Wallace) and then Cole (Cole Bennett)," Tuberville says. "We use linemen for other (situations), we always have had them as a third tight end if we need to put them in the game. Danny Perry will make the trip."

Able to take just 70 players on the road in the conference, the Tigers will have just three true freshmen on the road this weekend with defensive linemen Andrew McCain, wide receiver Robert Dunn and kicker Zach Kutch making the trip to Fayetteville.

The Tigers will have a short practice on Thursday before departing for Fayetteville on Friday afternoon. Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 6 p.m. and there is no television for the contest. Auburn will be looking to improve to 3-0 in league play for the fifth time in the last six seasons and win its 13th straight game against a Southeastern Conference opponent.

Since the 2000 season Auburn has a conference record of 31-11, one-half game behind Georgia's 32-11 mark that is the best in the SEC. The Tigers are followed by Tennessee and Florida at 32-12, LSU at 30-13, Ole Miss at 21-21, Alabama at 21-22, South Carolina (20-24), Arkansas (19-23), Mississippi State (9-35), Kentucky (6-36) and Vanderbilt (5-38).

Tiger Ticket Extra: The devastation in the New Orleans area has already had an impact on the Auburn Tigers this season with players such as Alonzo Horton, Patrick Trahan and Patrick Martyn directly affected by the flooding of Hurricane Katrina. The Tigers could be impacted even more next weekend when they travel to Baton Rouge to face the LSU Tigers at 6:45 p.m. in Tiger Stadium.

Auburn's travel plans, solid for the last few weeks, may change on Sunday with word coming out of Baton Rouge that the hotel rooms reserved for the Tigers may be needed by workers helping out in the area. If that is the case then Auburn would be forced to make a one-day trip similar to Tennessee. The Tigers would fly into Baton Rouge and bus straight to the stadium for the game and following the game bus back to the airport and fly home. Sunday the Tigers will find out if that has to be done.

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