A Trip To Remember For Several Auburn Players

Several Auburn players will make the trip home this weekend when the Tigers travel to face Top 10 LSU at Tiger Stadium.

Auburn, Ala.-–The Auburn Tigers put the finishing touches on the gameplan for the LSU Tigers with a hour and a half practice in shorts and helmets Thursday afternoon. Coach Tommy Tuberville says the team worked on offense, defense and the kicking game and he feels like his team is ready to see how they stack up against the Top 10 Tigers.

"We had a good practice and we've got a good gameplan," Tuberville says. "We'll see what happens. Steven Ross practiced the whole practice today and did a good job. Christopher Browder practiced and is available. We've just trying to get him back to 100 percent. Other than that we spent a lot of time on all three phases today. Now it's time to get them together and go again."

Although the team had to chance its travel plans to Baton Rouge because of damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Tuberville says it won't have an effect on the performance of his team Saturday night. If anything he says it will give them more of a feel like a home game.

"We'll watch film and go out and work out a little bit," Tuberville says. "Then we'll get on the bus around 5 p.m. and head West. We'll check into the hotel and let them sleep late Saturday morning. Then we'll get on a plane instead of a bus and go to the game."

When they arrive in Baton Rouge the Tigers will have some special players along for the ride. While all three are redshirting this season, freshmen defenders Rudy Odom, Alonzo Horton and Patrick Trahan will all make the trip for the LSU game. Tuberville says it's a good chance to reward them for their hard work and to also get back home for the first time since the hurricane.

"We try to do that every situation we're playing on the road where in somebody's home state," Tuberville says. "When we're playing Georgia we'll take a lot of the Georgia guys. I think it's good for them to see their families. They've been away for a while. Especially this trip they get to go home, I spoke with Alonzo today and his mother went down there today to see how much they could salvage. Today was the day they let them back in their district. It will be good for them to go back down there and see what's going on."

Jonathan Wilhite is excited about facing LSU in Death Valley.

While they get to make the trip, it won't help them miss a weekend of redshirt workouts. The players will work out Friday morning and again on Saturday morning before taking a bus over with several managers to Montgomery Saturday. There they will meet up with the team and fly to Baton Rouge for the game.

Another player going home this week is cornerback Jonathan Wilhite. From nearby Monroe, La., Wilhite wasn't recruited by LSU out of high school and didn't give them a look coming out of junior college despite some interest from the Bengal Tigers. He says this game is a special one for him going back to his home state.

"I can't wait," Wilhite says. "I've got a couple of buddies that play for LSU. They've been calling me on the phone and I haven't been answering. This is something I have been dreaming about. I never really wanted to play for LSU. I always wanted to play against them. This will be a big game for me."

The game could be made even bigger because there's a chance that Wilhite will be in the starting lineup against LSU Saturday night. After earning that spot due to a knee injury to starter Patrick Lee last week, Wilhite played well against Arkansas. Despite his success, he says that it has been a long road for him this season to get used to life in the SEC.

"What was real hard for me was the speed," Wilhite says. "Everything was real fast. When coach (Terry) Price recruited me he talked to me about the speed of the SEC. It wasn't like I imagined it was going to be. I was thinking I was going to come here and be on top right away like I was in junior college. It was a lot faster than junior college."

The speed and intensity of the game picked up last week in Wilhite's first road action of his career. While the game turned out well for both he and the Tigers, the redshirt sophomore says that he gained a lot of knowledge against the Razorbacks and hopes it will help him down the road beginning this week against LSU.

"I learned I have to get a lot better," Wilhite says. "I learned that when things go bad you just have to step it up even harder. I made a couple of bad plays (against Arkansas) and my players backed me up and told me not to worry about it and have a short-term memory. Arkansas, I actually visited there, and the fans got really loud and they were close to us. It's harder than I thought it was going to be, playing on the road. I know LSU is going to be worse. I just have to get myself mentally prepared for that."

Wilhite and the Tigers will have a short walk-through Friday afternoon in Auburn before traveling to Montgomery to stay overnight. The team will fly out of Montgomery Saturday for Baton Rouge and bus straight from the airport to the stadium for the game. Following the game the team will fly back to Montgomery. The travel plans are necessary because hotel rooms are in demand following Hurricane Katrina's impact in Louisiana. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN.

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