Smith And Tigers Working For SEC Opener

Wide receiver Rodgeriqus Smith talks about Tuesday's practice and the thoughts on his first career start last week.

Auburn, Ala.--With the opener against Washington State now firmly in the rearview mirror, the Auburn Tigers continued to get ready for the SEC opener with Mississippi State with a two-hour practice in full pads Tuesday morning. Senior offensive lineman Ben Grubbs says it was one of the more physical game week practices they've had and Coach Tommy Tuberville backed up those sentiments.

"We had a good tough, practice today," Tuberville says. "We really got after it. It was a hot, humid practice out there today. The scout team gave us a really good effort today and that will help us get ready for the game."

Sophomore wide receiver Rodgeriqus Smith says that you can tell the difference when the conference schedule begins.

"We didn't underestimate Washington State but this week is different," Smith says. "We want to pick up the intensity in practice and go a little bit harder getting ready for the SEC."

Focusing on the game plan for Saturday's contest, the Tigers spent much of the day working against the scout teams on both sides of the ball. For the offense that meant preparing to face a defense that dealt South Carolina fits all night in the opener. Smith says the receivers as a group watched the game and have a lot of respect for the Bulldogs.

"We were watching the game at Coach (Greg) Knox's house," Smith says. "We could see they have a real good defense. Their cornerbacks are pretty good. They are young but pretty good. We got a good feel for how they're going to play us."

In his first game as a starter for the Tigers, Smith came up with Auburn's biggest pass play of the night, a 41-yarder from Brandon Cox. For the game Smith had two catches for 47 yards and he says that it's important for him and the other receivers to make some plays this week against a tough Mississippi State defense to take the focus off Courtney Taylor.

"They're going to be doubling him," Smith says. "That gives us the opportunity for us to make plays on the other side. It's going to be a different challenge. They've got nine starters coming back. It's going to be a tougher task this week."

Safety Tristan Davis is working at first team safety splitting time with Eric Brock.

With one game under his belt Smith admits that he's feeling a lot more comfortable heading into this week's game than in the week before the Washington State game. "It's a lot different," Smith says. "I was nervous going into this game being my first start. After a couple of plays I kind of relaxed and got into the game a little bit more. I feel a lot better going into this week. I know what to expect. It will be different for me."

The health of the team is very good after one week of play as several players are a little banged-up but no one that played against the Cougars is out this week. Linebacker Steve Gandy (leg), defensive end Darrell Roseman (leg) and fullback Michael McLaughlin (knee) are all out for this week.

Defensively there were several players that stood out Saturday night but one that got some props from the coaching staff was redshirt freshman defensive end Antonio Coleman. Playing behind starter Quentin Groves, Coleman finished with three tackles but it was plays such as running down Washington State running back Demaundray Woolridge at the two-yard line that caught the attention of defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.

"Antonio played hard and had great effort," Muschamp says. "As a matter of fact Antonio had three extra effort plays. That's a big compliment to him and his effort and the way he plays. He's going to be a good football player for us."

Another player that played well was Tristan Davis. Despite getting in just 15 plays Davis performed well enough to move to co-number one at strong safety with Eric Brock. Both practiced with the first team Tuesday and are expected to see roughly equal playing time Saturday in Starkville.

The Tigers will practice Wednesday afternoon as they continue to get ready for the season's first road game at Mississippi State. Kickoff for the game is set for 11:30 a.m. and can be seen on Lincoln Financial Sports stations (formerly Jefferson Pilot).

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