Old, Young Tigers Back at Bowl Practice

The Tigers returned the practice field on Tuesday with a two-hour workout in Orlando.

Orlando, Fla.--Although he won't be playing in the Capital One Bowl game on Jan. 2nd, Auburn's bowl practices are important for redshirts like Montez Billings.

With the Tigers having to replace senior wide receivers Ben Obomanu, Devin Aromashodu and Anthony Mix next season, Billings has an opportunity to move into a key role with the 2006 team.

"I learned so much this year from watching those guys and working with them every day," says Billings, who signed with the Tigers in February. "I learned so much with guys like Anthony Mix taking time to show me things. Now I am expected to come in next year knowing what I am doing and not come in making rookie mistakes."

Billings, who is from Pelham, has also used his first semester at Auburn to get bigger and stronger. "I have bulked up a little," the six-foot-two freshman says. "I have gained about 10 pounds and I am right at 180. It has helped me. I can tell a difference, but I am still in the process of gaining more weight."

Montez Billings

The receiver says he is excited about having an experienced quarterback returning next season. Brandon Cox will be a junior in 2006 and should be one of the top QBs in the SEC.

"Cox stepped up a whole lot," Billings says. "He kind of started off rough against Georgia Tech, but he got his focus back together and kept his composure. I could see he grew a whole lot throughout the season. I have got a lot of confidence in him. I can't wait for next season to start."

Billings says he is excited about playing in Auburn's offensive system. In addition to offensive coordinator Al Borges using four-wideout and even five-wideout sets, the wide receivers get to run the ball on reverses and junior Courtney Taylor has thrown a touchdown pass this season.

"I like that type of stuff," Billings says. "I always wanted to do it in high school, but I never really got a chance. I am just excited about whole offensive scheme we have. I think I fit right into it."

The Tigers, who are practicing at Freedom High in Orlando as they continue to prepare for their game vs. Wisconsin, will work out daily this week in the mornings and have the afternoons and evenings free to take in the sights.

All-SEC tailback Kenny Irons runs the football in Auburn's first workout in Florida.

Tuesday's practice was the first for the Tigers in Orlando. The Tigers met at their hotel on Monday evening after a break for Christmas. Wisconsin, which brings a 9-3 record into the Capital One Bowl, started a day earlier.

"We had a good practice," notes head coach Tommy Tuberville. "We were a little stale from last week, but we're starting to come around. We're going to have a lot of contact for the next three days and then we'll start pulling off of that. The guys are in good spirits. They're excited about being down here and the weather."

The forecast is for sunny days and highs in the 70s this week in Orlando.

"As coaches, we approach any game the same, whether its a bowl game here or in Atlanta or New Orleans," says Tuberville, whose Tigers worked on special teams play on Tuesday. "But the thing we want to do is to make sure the guys enjoy it and have fun. It's supposed to be fun. It was hard getting to this bowl game and we're going to make the most of it. It's going to be a great game."

AU strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall checks his stopwatch as the Tigers run wind sprints in Tuesday's practice.

The coaching staff put the Tigers through individual drills and the first offense worked against the first defense and the twos practiced vs. the twos while the scout teams also got in some work.

Bowl Notes: The Tigers head into the Capital One Bowl with 18 touchdown passes, which is the sixth highest single season total in school history. With one more this team will move into a tie for third with the 1995, 1996 and 1999 teams. Brandon Cox has 14 touchdown passes, Blake Field has three and wide receiver Courtney Taylor has one...Auburn's 2,452 passing yards is ninth on the school single season list. If the Tigers match their average of 222.9 per game, they will pass the 1990, 1999, 2003 and 1996 teams and move into fifth...John Vaughn set a season record for kicking points last year with 87. He has 82 so far this season, which is four behind number two Scott Etheridge's runnerup total set in 1992...Following Tuesday's practice, the Tigers headed to Gatorland, the first stop on their tour of Orlando area theme parks...On Wednesday the Tigers will go to Tinker Field for a "Day for Kids" program after practice and will then go to Disney's Epcot Center.

Defensive end Stanley McClover tackles tailback Tre Smith during Tuesday's practice.

Coach Tommy Tuberville plays with an alligator on the team's visit to Gatorland on Tuesday evening.

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