Energetic Tigers Have Good Day

Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about Wednesday's practice as the Tigers prepare for the Iron Bowl.

Auburn, Ala.-—With cooler temperatures and excitement growing on the Auburn campus, the 11th-ranked Tigers practiced for two hours as they prepare to face the 8th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide Saturday afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Coach Tommy Tuberville says the team has prepared well and he feels like they're improving daily as they prepare for the final regular season game of 2005.

"We had a good practice," Tuberville says. "The guys are energetic and obviously there are several reasons, one being that we're playing the Iron Bowl and another is that next week is Thanksgiving and they all get to go home after Saturday night for a week. It's a well-deserved rest.

"There has been a lot of intensity in practice the last couple of days," he adds. "We have a lot of guys watching film and excited about the game knowing we get to play one of the better teams we've played all year. We're also excited about being at home. It's been a while. We've had two games in basically the last two months at Jordan-Hare Stadium. It will be fun to be back in the friendly confines here with our fans."

Just like last week the Tigers have changed up the routine this week in practice and in preparations with film study in the mornings which gives players more rest time at night. Tuberville says the main thing you want this week is not to peak too early because of the excitement surrounding the game.

"It's the typical Iron Bowl week," Tuberville says. "The guys, you can tell they're a little bit anxious. What you want to try to do is not play it on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, but play it on Saturday. We're out there trying to have a little fun. The coaches are joking around with the players a lot more than we normally do, but you tell it's all business. We're trying to get their minds off of it as much as we can. They'll play well. We look forward to seeing what happens."

Joe Cope is the reigning SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week.

The Tigers should be a healthy football team as center Joe Cope continues to improve after spraining an ankle against Georgia last Saturday night. Cope practiced both Tuesday and Wednesday, only going through a short walk-through on Wednesday, and Tuberville says that the center is getting ready to play on Saturday.

"Most everybody is pretty much healthy," Tuberville says. "Joe Cope went through walk-throughs today, did not practice full speed. Hopefully he'll get to practice some tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

"It's much better," he says of the injury. "He had this same thing, not quite as bad, a few weeks ago and ended up playing. We'll see what happens. He went through all of the gameplan today. We took him inside and the offensive line and all of the offense basically went through the gameplan twice. One indoors during meeting time and one outside. He went through all of that. Hopefully we can get him outside and have some contact tomorrow.

With Cope sitting out of the contact portion of practice Tuberville says the first-team center reps went to a combination of guys. Junior Jonathan Palmer and seniors Troy Reddick and Steven Ross all got some time at center. Tuberville says that Ross is back to full speed after suffering through his second hip flexor strain of the season.

Elsewhere offensively the Tigers are in good shape as tailback Brad Lester appears to be back to full speed while both Courtney Taylor and Ben Obomanu are full bore once again after being banged-up against Kentucky three weeks ago.

Auburn has an advantage this week of playing at home in this year's version of the Iron Bowl. With a 5-2 all-time record against Alabama in Jordan-Hare Stadium, the Tigers should have a big edge Saturday, but Tuberville says that because of Alabama's experience and the competitive nature of this rivalry that it won't matter any after the opening kickoff.

"It's a lot like the Georgia game," Tuberville says. "You could play this game in a sand box and it wouldn't make a lot of difference. The players are going to play. The only difference is that the crowd noise will affect the visiting team a little bit, but once you get into the game that doesn't matter. The crowd noise was real loud last week at Georgia and it didn't bother us. They've got a fifth-year senior at quarterback so they won't have any problems.

"It's just good to know that we're going to go through our regular routine and have a little bit of advantage of being around our folks. When it's all said and done though you kick it off and you don't even look in the stands. The best team will play the best and go on with it."

Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and can be seen nationally on CBS. Auburn will be looking for its fourth-straight win in the series and fifth in the seven games under Tuberville.

Tiger Ticket Extra:

Every year there is an extra electricity in the air when the Iron Bowl rolls around and this season is no different. Wednesday morning RV's began coming into town and by 5 p.m. the fields on Donahue Drive were already filling up. It already looks like a normal SEC gameday in the fields with still three days remaining until kickoff.

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