Tuberville Likes Focus From Tigers

Auburn's Tommy Tuberville talks about Saturday night's win over Georgia and getting ready for Alabama.

Auburn, Ala.—-After a late night following a hard-fought 31-30 victory over Georgia in Athens, the Auburn Tigers had a short half-hour practice on Sunday as they begin preparations for Saturday's Iron Bowl. Coach Tommy Tuberville says that other than a few bumps and bruises his team came through the game pretty healthy.

"It was a good game," Tuberville says. "We got a few guys beat up. Joe Cope's is an ankle, he should play. It's not a high ankle sprain they don't think. He was probably 95 percent in that game and should be close to 100 percent this week.

"Other than that it was a hard-fought, physical game," he adds. "One that you would expect and one that always happens when you play the Bulldogs. Fortunately for us we were able to pull it off. Now we go into our big game this week. You could tell the intensity in practice already. The players are talking to the younger guys and the focus is there.

"We're going to play a good football team, a team that has been good all year and played well all year. They've got a lot of good football players. I haven't had a chance to watch them much on film yet, but I'm sure it will be a good battle."

Tuberville says that Jonathan Palmer, Steven Ross and Troy Reddick will all be available at center this week if needed. In addition to the known injuries several Tigers were banged-up during the game, but appear to be fine for next weekend. Offensive tackle Marcus McNeill had his right hand wrapped up on Sunday, but says it was just for precaution and there is very little pain. X-rays were taken just to be on the safe side. Also Tommy Jackson has a bruised shin, but says he's fine and there are no problems.

That's good news for a defense that again struggled against the pass on Saturday night as Georgia's D.J. Shockley threw for 304 yards and two touchdowns. For the second consecutive game the Tigers allowed over 300 yards passing, a number that wasn't even close to being reached until week nine. Tuberville says they haven't played well recently, but winning is the most important thing at the moment.

"We knew we were going to give some plays up," Tuberville says. "We were going to stop the run first and make them throw the football. The disappointing thing defensively on the night for me is that we let the quarterback scramble more than we should have.

"He's a great player, but we didn't angle tackle as well as we should have. We didn't force him to the boundary. I thought we gave a few more yards up than we should have, but great players make great plays. He did just that and kept them in the ballgame."

Despite giving up plays, the Tigers made plays when they needed them the most. Whether it was Marquies Gunn's caused fumble that led to a Karibi Dede touchdown or Antarrious Williams knocking the ball away from Leonard Pope, Tuberville says he never doubts his guys will make the play when it's needed the most.

Dede celebrates his first fumble recovery.

"We give up a 45-yard pass and the next play we'll play perfect," Tuberville says. "That's the type of defense we run. We give up plays and we're going to give up plays, but somebody seems to find a way to make a play. We've got the shortest linebacker on the field knocks the ball down on their tight end down the middle of the field. That was a major play. Last night there was no quit and everybody felt good about it. I felt good the whole game. You could just tell with the intensity that the guys felt confident we could win."

Shockley wasn't the only quarterback making plays Saturday night as sophomore Brandon Cox continues to show why he's one of the top up and coming players in the Southeastern Conference. Throwing for 279 yards, Cox pushed his season total to 2,069 yards, but maybe the most impressive thing about his play this season has been in crunch time.

Twice this season on the road in the most hostile of environments in Baton Rouge and Athens, Cox has led the Tigers the length of the field in the final minutes. Tuberville says that shows what kind of character and mental capacity Cox has.

"I think he's grown up every game and learned from every situation he's been in," Tuberville says. "He's kind of taken it all in. He's kind of like a sponge, he's absorbing everything.

"Brandon is just a heads-up player," he adds. "He got us in a lot of good running plays. To run this offense you've got to be like a computer out there on the field knowing everything that's going on…Brandon has really gotten better. The biggest thing is his poise. He's kept his poise all year long no matter how people blitz him or whatever. He's kept his composure."

Tiger Ticket Extra:

The players of the week for the Tigers were center Joe Cope on offense, linebacker Karibi Dede and Tre Smith on special teams. Until going out in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle, Cope anchored a line that dominated Georgia's front the entire game. Dede totaled four tackles and recovered two fumbles, one he returned for a score. Smith was solid fielding punts and also made two tackles on kickoff returns.


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