Sunday Sluggish Sunday

Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville wasn't pleased with Sunday's practice on the Plains.

Auburn, Ala.--After having what Coach Tommy Tuberville called their best practice in four or five days on Saturday, the Auburn Tigers followed that with a lackluster Sunday workout in full pads that was filled with turnovers and sloppy play.

It was a day that drew the ire of the usually quiet Tuberville and came to an end with him bearing down on the sizeable contingent of injured players on the sidelines.

Normally quiet during practices except for the occasional instructions, Tuberville let it be known he wasn't happy with how things went on Sunday. Following the practice the team did quite a bit of running with a dozen timed 40-yard sprints. On the sideline the injured players did push-ups and sit-ups the entire time the team was running. When the team was called up at the end of the day Tuberville wasn't happy with the hustle of the injured group and let them know about it.

"The defense was average," Tuberville said. "The offense wasn't very good. They weren't focused and ready to practice==slept too late, I guess. We're not near close to ready to play a game. We've got too many people leaning on each other. We're going to have to do a lot of work between now and whenever."

That work was thought to be on the horizon with a scrimmage originally scheduled for Saturday moved back to Monday or Tuesday. Tuberville said Sunday night that now he's not sure when it will take place because of the bodies missing from practice the last few days.

"I really don't know," he said. "Did you see all those guys over there hurt. We don't have enough to practice right now. I guess they're hurt. I have watched it for a few days and you take about all you can take of it. Two-a-days is for practice and hard work and dedication to what you're going to do during the year. We haven't done that. Some have and some haven't."

Sunday "Muscle Beach", as it's affectionately called because the players work out with weights and run throughout practice, was filled to nearcapacity as Marquies Gunn (hamstring), Tez Doolittle (Achilles), Chris Evans (ankle), Hendrick Leverette (knee), Antwoin Daniels (knee), Leon Hart (stomach) and Courtney Taylor (knee) all missed Sunday's practice. Offensive tackle Andrew McCain later joined the group after banging his knee during practice.

Safety Eric Brock snares a Blake Field pass intended for Tommy Trott.

Another player who missed Sunday's practice was quarterback Brandon Cox. After throwing pass after pass during the first week and a half of practices, Cox was given the day off to rest his arm in preparation for the final scrimmages of the preseason camp. Tuberville said it gave the coaches a chance to watch some of the young quarterbacks in action and get them on film.

"We held Brandon out today," Tuberville said. "There's nothing wrong with him. We wanted to see our other quarterbacks and get more reps with them. He'll start back tomorrow. We gave him a day off so his arm will be a little stronger. We're getting ready hopefully to go into a couple of scrimmages sometime this week. I don't know when they'll be yet, but hopefully we can get a couple in. They won't be real long ones, maybe about like they were the other day."

Another player held out of action was defensive end Christopher Browder. A leader on the defensive side of the ball, Browder has performed well since moving back to end from tackle. Saturday he was moving slow at times and on Sunday Tuberville said there was a reason why.

"Chris Browder has pushed real hard through it," Tuberville said. "He's not one of them I was talking about. He's had a groin problem and a shin problem. We just decided to give him 24 hours off. He'll come back tomorrow."

With Cox out the quarterback trio of Blake Field, Steven Ensminger and Neil Caudle struggled to get the offense going on Sunday. Working on the passing game during two-minute and goal line situations, the young quarterbacks threw too many interceptions for Tuberville to like what he saw.

Jerraud Powers breaks up a pass intended for Rodgeriqus Smith.

Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite started the day off with a bang for the defense as he picked off an ill-advised screen pass from Field on the first play of 11-on-11 work. The trened continued as Eric Brock, Zach Gilbert, Tristan Davis all intercepted a pass and Jerraud Powers added two picks while wearing a shoulder harness after returning from a bruised shoulder. Tuberville said that while he's still not happy with everything on defense he believes the group is playing hard and it showed on Sunday.

"We're playing with a lot of enthusiasm on defense," Tuberville said. "We're not playing very good, but we're playing hard and playing with enthusiasm. We're just making a lot of mistakes. If I had to say one group that is playing a little better than when we started it would be the DB's even with David (Irons, hamstring injury) out, who will be back in a few days."

Tuberville said there is still no word on junior college defensive tackle Greg Smith. Finished with his classes, the Northeast Mississippi student still must clear a few paperwork hurdles before he can join the Tigers. Tuberville said he needs to hurry though because classes begin on Wednesday.

Tuberville said the new SEC rule requiring some players to get the approval of the university president and the conference office to enroll does not apply in Smith's case. "You don't get cleared you graduate," Tuberville said. "Then they have to have all the transcripts in. This is not an unusual circumstance. He's taken a normal amount of hours and if he passes he passes. He was supposed to finish last week. Again they have to get all of the information in to the president and provost at Northeast which is normal."

The Tigers return to the practice field bright and early on Monday with the first of two practices scheduled for 8:30 a.m. It is the last two-a-day practice for the Tigers as they have a single Tuesday practice scheduled and will take Wednesday off for the first day of classes.


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