Tigers Not Back To Full Strength

Auburn will likely be without three starters for this Saturday's game against Buffalo.

Auburn, Ala.--Some of Auburn's walking wounded are getting closer to being healthy but there are still several players questionable as the second-ranked Tigers (3-0) prepare for Saturday's game against the Buffalo Bulls at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

On the good side quarterback Brandon Cox practiced after just throwing on the side Tuesday. Coach Tommy Tuberville says he'll be ready to go this weekend as will linebacker Karibi Dede who has been bothered by a bruised leg. That's not the case with running back Kenny Irons and cornerback Jonathan Wilhite though. Both did some light running on the side Wednesday but is very doubtful either will play Saturday against Buffalo. Tuberville says that it's wait and see with both and they won't play unless they are ready to go full speed.

"We're just trying to figure out physically who's going to be ready to play," Tuberville says. "Wilhite won't be ready to play. We tried to run him. Brandon ran and did good today. He ran plays. He's still a little sore but he will be our starting quarterback.

"Kenny is probably doubtful, we'll just have to wait and see," he adds. "He was out there and ran good but you could tell he wasn't 100 percent. I'm not going to play him unless he's 100 percent with all of those other guys we've got. Karibi ran good and he's fine."

With the focus on getting better on both sides of the ball, the Tigers had an intense practice as they try to put the LSU game behind them and focus on Buffalo. Tuberville says he was happy with the focus in the practice and also the hitting going on.

"We had a good two hour practice today," Tuberville says. "It was a lot more physical than I would have expected. It's good to see the guys bounce back. The guys ran around and you can tell we've got a lot of youth on this team because they can recover pretty quick mentally and physically. We worked a lot on the kicking game. We also went with our offense against our defense, first and second teams, trying to work on the speed of the game. We needed to get back to that a little bit."

Linebacker coach James Willis works with Kevin Sears to try to get the senior up to speed following his three-week suspension.

One of the injuries that could be tough for the Tigers to overcome is the loss of tight end Cole Bennett to a broken bone in his leg. Undergoing surgery on Monday, Bennett is expected to be out six to eight weeks. That leaves Auburn with just two redshirt freshman tight ends in Gabe McKenzie and Tommy Trott. Tuberville says that right now Michael Goggans is working with the offense but there are no plans to get him any action unless it's absolutely necessary.

"We're working Goggans at tight end now," Tuberville says. "If we go three tight ends we'll look at an offensive lineman like Leon (Leon Hart) or somebody else. I'm not going to play Mike until he's ready to play tight end, not just two or three plays."

This week is one of the weeks that NFL Scouts hit the road to check out college football prospects around the country. Wednesday was one of the days that Auburn was the focus of their attention. Over a dozen teams has scouts in attendance with much of the attention focused on the offense with linemen Timmy Duckworth, Ben Grubbs and Jonathan Palmer all pro prospects.

Several NFL scouts check out Auburn's practice.

Wide receiver Courtney Taylor is also a player that the scouts were taking a long look at during the practice. Defensively the scouts were watching linebacker Will Herring, defensive back David Irons, punter Kody Bliss, and defensive ends Marquies Gunn and Christopher Browder. Tuberville says this is one of the scheduled trips to Auburn for the scouts.

"We let them come a couple of weeks in two-a-days and I think three weeks during the season," Tuberville says. "Today was the first day this season. During this week we'll have 20-25 teams represented. They're here to look at all the game film to this point, grade them to this point, and watch them practice."

The Tigers will practice Thursday morning in their final workout before Saturday's 1:30 p.m. kickoff against the 1-2 Buffalo Bulls. There is no television for the contest.


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