Tigers Have High Energy Practice

Friday's practice was the second day of scout team work as Auburn prepares for Washington State on Sept. 2.

Auburn, Ala.--In one of the first times since practice began in early August, Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville said he was pleased with what his team was able to accomplish in Friday evening's two-hour session which focused on special teams and scout team.

"We worked probably more on special teams than we have," Tuberville said. "There was a lot of life and a lot of guys bouncing around knowing they have the next two nights off. It's the first time I've seen some of them smile in about a month. They deserved it and the coaches deserved it. It's been a while since coaches have had any time off. We'll regroup, come back Sunday and start getting after it."

Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp also said he was pleased with effort and focus his players had before Saturday's off day.

One player in particular that Muschamp has been happy with is cornerback Patrick Lee, who has earned a spot in the playing rotation at cornerback.

"Patrick Lee, Jonathan Wilhite and David Irons are our three starters at corner," the first-year Auburn coordinator said. "Patrick's had an outstanding camp. He's stepped it up. We've talked about him being more consistent and more physical and he has done that on both ends.

"I'll rotate guys that I have the confidence in," Muschamp added. "Right now I've got all three of those guys playing and playing productive for us. He (Lee) is a very intelligent kid and he can do it all."

As well as playing cornerback, Lee will be in on the dime package. Zach Gilbert and Jerraud Powers are battling for the nickel back position when the Tigers go with five defensive backs, but Muschamp said it won't be decided until close to game day against Washington State on Saturday, Sept. 2nd.


Powers, above, Lee and Gilbert provide talented depth at cornerback.

With the new rules in affect this season where the game clock starts with the 25-second clock on the change of possession, offensive coordinator Al Borges said that his players have spent a fair amount of time in practice adjusting to the new clock management.

"We worked on the two-minute drill today taking it right to the line of scrimmage," he noted. "We practiced last time on the four-minute drill and milking the clock to the end."

The new rule, which the coordinator is not in favor of, will likely take away about seven offensive plays per team, according to Borges.

Tuberville, who has been in favor of a playoff system for years and especially after Auburn's 13-0 record and No. 2 finish in 2004, took another jab at the current system and preseason rankings. He has also been a lobbyist for polls to not come out until October.

After finding out that seven of 12 ESPN.com analysts predicted Auburn to play for the national championship this season, Tuberville said, "They need to come down here and watch everybody practice before they start picking. We'll take it right now. If they'll give us the national championship we'll watch everybody else play. It's mythical anyway. We don't have a playoff.

"To predict who's going to be there in the end, that'd be hard to do," Tuberville added.

Aside from Tray Blackmon and Kevin Sears, who are indefinitely suspended, Tuberville said that he does not expect linebacker Steve Gandy (thigh), offensive tackle Oscar Gonzalez (toe) and nose guard Greg Smith to play in the first game. Smith isn't injured, but his conditioning is not up to game standards after missing summer workouts and two-a-days.

Linebacker Chris Evans did not practice on Friday after bruising a thigh on Thursday, but is expected to return on Sunday. Offensive guard Tyronne Green has struggled with stamina this August. Tuberville said Green would have more blood tests run to figure out the problem.

True freshman wide receiver Alex Rose is on campus and getting his classes set up more than a week after fall semester began. He did not practice on Friday. Once he joins the team for Sunday's practice he will be a partial qualifier, which means he can't play in games this season, but can practice. He can play as a redshirt senior for a fourth season in 2010 if he is on pace according to NCAA academic standards to earn his degree.

Tuberville ordered all of his coaches to take the day off on Saturday as well as the players. The head coach noted a number of his players will attend Storybook Farm in Opelika on Sunday to visit with children suffering from cancer.


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