Taylor Says Tigers Not Looking Past Cats

Auburn wide receiver Courtney Taylor talks about this weekend's match-up with Kentucky and his improving health.

Auburn, Ala.-–With several players banged up this week heading into Saturday's game against Kentucky an injury that gets better every day is the ankle of junior wide receiver Courtney Taylor.

One of Auburn's most dangerous weapons last season when he led the team in catches with 43 and yards with 737, Taylor's injury has limited him to just 17 receptions for 224 yards this season. He says that for the first time in over a month he finally feels like his old self.

"Man, I'm 100 percent," Taylor says. "I'm all 100 percent now. There is a little pain, but it's nothing."

Taylor has also yet to catch a touchdown pass this season after snaring six as a junior. A confident player that is very outspoken about his abilities, Taylor has taken a lot of grief because of his scoreless streak this season, but says that won't last the entire season.

"My teammates have been giving me grief about that all year," Taylor says. "It's a thing I'm struggling with and have to get through. I'm going to get in the endzone before the year is over with. I promise you that."

This weekend Taylor and the Tigers face a Kentucky team that is coming off a win over Mississippi State at home. While that might not sound like a big deal to the average fan, it was enough for Taylor to see the Tigers must be ready to play this Saturday.

"I don't really feel like it's that hard, to be honest," Taylor says when asked if it would be hard to be up for the Wildcats. "I feel like every week you gain some sort of momentum and this could be a momentum game. We're not going to take Kentucky lightly at all. They beat Mississippi State last weekend. We didn't really play our best game against Mississippi State, so that gets your attention. We take every game the same and use it as momentum.

"We've had success against Kentucky through the years, but anything can happen," Taylor adds. "I remember a couple of years ago when Kentucky was playing Florida (with Jared Lorenzen). I'm telling you, you can't overlook no team in the SEC. I feel like this is one of those teams. They're dangerous."

No game backed-up Taylor's statement any better than last week's upset of Tennessee by South Carolina in Knoxville. He says that solidified Auburn's thoughts that they better be ready for anything and everything from the wounded Wildcats.

"Look at that game," Taylor says of the South Carolina-Tennessee game. "I'm not saying we just beat the dog out of South Carolina, but we whooped them pretty good. Tennessee is a good football team. I don't know what their excuses are, but South Carolina was ready to play. We can go up in there not ready to play and Kentucky could be ready to play."

The Kentucky game is the beginning of the home stretch for the Tigers. The next two weeks they face rivals Georgia and Alabama in two games that will have a huge impact on the SEC Championship game. Taylor says that the next three games will determine what kind of season the Tigers have in 2005.

"One of the things our coaches always say is ‘people remember what you do in November'," Taylor says. "That's true. We've got to pick up our game even more. Even though we're improving, we've got to pick it up to another level because we're going into the last stretch of this month."

Quarterback Brandon Cox takes a snap from Joe Cope and flanked by guard Jonathan Palmer during Thursday's practice.

In addition to Taylor, the news is good for running back Brad Lester. Out since the first quarter of the Arkansas game with a strained groin, Lester has practiced this week and coach Tommy Tuberville says that he'll be available this weekend if needed.

"Brad Lester went some," Tuberville says. "He's still a little questionable for the game. It will be a gametime decision on Duckworth (starting guard Timmy Duckworth). We'll just have to wait and see how he feels between now and Saturday.

"He's (Lester) is close to 100 percent. He's just got a little soreness, which he's going to have. We wanted him to go full speed this week. You don't want him going full speed next week for the first time. We pushed him hard and he's done a lot of conditioning."

With Duckworth questionable for Saturday the job would fall to junior Jonathan Palmer. Palmer has played guard and center this season for the Tigers and has practiced with the first team all week. Another offensive lineman that could get a big shot this weekend is tackle Leon Hart. Don't be surprised to see him get extensive action at right tackle against the Wildcats with Troy Reddick playing inconsistent of late.

Center Steven Ross continues to be bothered by nagging injuries. This time it's a strained muscle and not the hip flexor problem from earlier in the season. Tuberville says he'll be ready to go on Saturday, but he sat out part of Thursday's one-our practice.

Auburn will have a short walk-through on Friday before flying to Lexington late in the afternoon. Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for noon central time and there is no television for the contest.

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