Tigers Happy To Be Home

Auburn had several players back at Tuesday's practice, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

Auburn, Ala.--Despite a torrential downpour that cut the practice down to just less than two hours, the Auburn Tigers had a very good first day back on their own practice fields as they worked on all phases of the game and continued installing things on both offense and defense. Tuberville said the attitude was good and that's to be expected as the team comes back home for the first day.

"I have always noticed when we've come over from the intramural fields it's like a whole new attitude," Tuberville said. "The guys are over here on the soft grass and everything is manicured. They know where their drills are going to be. They know where to go from period 1-25. It's a lot easier and I think they can keep their focus a lot better but we go over there for a reason. We want them to go to a different environment and make them fight the heat and hard ground and feel how tough it is and not take this for granted over here."

The move to the practice fields was a welcome relief to both the coaches and players and gave the practice a different feel than the workouts on the intramural fields. Auburn play-by-play voice Rod Bramblett said that you could tell things were a little different today than in recent days and it was obvious even during tackling drills to open the practice as the players were a little more aggressive than in recent practices. Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said that things changed when today and he was glad to see it.

"The ground is a lot nicer and it was good to get back over in our confines over here," Muschamp said. "The kids feel comfortable. We had a good work day for the most part. We're going to give them the day off tomorrow and we have to get back to work Thursday morning and get ready for Friday."

On the injury front the Tigers are getting closer to full speed as Marquies Gunn, Christopher Browder and Tez Doolittle were all practicing on the defensive front and looking good running around. Back after missing several days because of the death of their grandmother were defensive tackle Jermarcus Ricks and linebacker Courtney Harden.

Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks takes down a tackling sled during a drill.

Also back was safety Lorenzo Ferguson who missed time because of a slightly separated shoulder. Both Ferguson and cornerback Jerraud Powers were in non-contact orange jerseys for the practice. Tuberville said it was nice to see the team getting healthier but more are needed before the team can have another important scrimmage to help separate some players at key positions.

Defensively there are several spots that have battles ongoing and that's something that the coaches don't want to end until they get to see the players one more time in a scrimmage situation. Muschamp said they are trying to get across to the players that improvements have to be made in a hurry if they want to play.

"That's what we talked to them about last night was leadership and a sense of urgency to play harder, play faster and play better," Muschamp said. "We're getting it out of some guys but just not enough. We're just real banged up right now and we've got to get some kids healthy."

Offensively the first line remains intact with Joe Cope's knee getting better by the day. Bothered by a strained abdominal muscle, junior Leon Hart ran on the side during Tuesday's practice and could return by the end of the week. Oscar Gonzalez remains in the training room as a dislocated toe continues to cause him problems. Guard Tyronne Green was hospitalized for a stomach virus but should return by the end of the week.

Tuberville singled out the play of tight end Gabe McKenzie as one of the bright spots for the offense during two-a-days and said that he's locked in a battle with Tommy Trott for the number two position behind Cole Bennett. Tuberville noted that Trott hasn't had a good fall camp to this point and they're looking for him to pick it up as the season draws closer.

Wide receiver James Swinton snares a pass as Coach Greg Knox looks on.

Things remain unchanged on the status of defensive tackle Greg Smith as Tuberville said he has finished his class work and now must get cleared before he can join the team. Nothing had been decided as of Tuesday afternoon but Tuberville said things could change on a moment's notice.

While the gameplan hasn't begun to be installed for the opener against Washington State, Tuberville said the coaching staff is already very familiar with the Cougars and what they do. He said the game is going to be a tough one for his team because of the defensive changes his club is making.

"We looked at them all last spring and a lot this summer," Tuberville said. "They've got most of their starters back. They'll have a good football team. It will be a big challenge for a team running some new schemes on defense with a lot of new faces. It doesn't make a hill of beans where you're ranked. It's going to be a heck of a football game."

The Tigers will take Wednesday off before returning to the practice fields Thursday morning for the first of their normal routine this season of morning workouts on Thursdays. They will practice Friday, twice on Saturday and one time on Sunday before taking Monday off.


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