Tuberville Says Team Fired Up And Ready To Go

Auburn's Tommy Tuberville and Don Dunn talk about this week's match up with Florida and how the team is preparing.

Auburn, Ala.--With two more practice days left before a showdown with second-ranked Florida at Jordan-Hare Stadium, the Auburn Tigers (5-1) had a good two-hour practice on Wednesday in shorts and shoulder pads. Coach Tommy Tuberville says that he's pleased with the focus of his team this week and that continued on Wednesday.

"We had to shorten practice just a few minutes because of a little rain and lightning," Tuberville says. "We had a good work day. The guys bounced around good.

"We did a lot of work on special teams today," he adds. "Last week we dropped off a little bit. We spent a little more time on that today. The guys are fired up and ready to go."

On the injury front the team appears to be in pretty good shape with the exception of running back Brad Lester. Although the sophomore said on Tuesday that he felt good and was definitely playing this weekend Tuberville says he's still not full speed and is doubtful for Saturday's contest.

"Brad Lester is still about 60 or 70 percent," Tuberville says. "It's still going to be probably pretty doubtful for him right now. Other than that it's pretty good."

This week will be a challenge for Auburn's defensive front unlike any they have faced this season. With the multiple formations of a team such as South Carolina combined with the physical talents of a team like LSU, Florida's versatile offense will be a challenge for the Tigers Saturday night. Because the Gators do so many things, it will be up to Auburn's front four to respond after the disappointing loss to Arkansas and Coach Dun Dunn thinks they will do just that.

"I thought they all played hard," Dunn says. "I was not disappointed in their effort. I was just disappointed in the way, myself included, we didn't respond to stopping the run. They are all things we can correct. They'll get better.

"They're embarrassed and I'm embarrassed. Losing is no fun. We're not used to it and I'm not happy about it and neither are they nor should they be. If you come to play at Auburn and you're satisfied or happy with getting your butt kicked then you need to be doing something else."

Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp goes over the defense with linemen Josh Thompson, Pat Sims, Sen'Derrick Marks and others.

One player that could help in the middle in the coming weeks is true freshman Jermarcus Ricks. The biggest of Auburn's defensive linemen at 6-4 and right around 300 pounds, Ricks is the only player in Auburn's signing class that is still in the playing rotation this season. It's a tough thing to do for a true freshman and Dunn says that he sees a struggle going on with Ricks but he also sees the young freshman pulling his own weight after a few tough weeks.

"He's kind of hit a little lull to be honest with you," Dunn says. "It's just a freshman deal with the grind of school and meetings and the workouts, 24 hours a day with school and football. It has got him in a little slump. He's still learning though. It's all new to him.

"Every day is new, every week is new, every time we travel is new," Dunn adds. "He showed a little more spark today. I would like to play him a little more. He only got about four or five snaps on Saturday but he's making good progress."

Offensively, the Tigers are looking for a few more playmakers to help take the strain off Brandon Cox in the passing game and Kenny Irons running the football. Tuberville says that's definitely a focus this week in practice and all that it takes now is for a few more players to step up on both sides of the ball when the lights are on.

"I think they're out there somewhere," Tuberville says. "We're looking for them. We've got them, just nobody has stepped up in some areas. We just haven't had a lot of big plays. We haven't had turnovers, I'm talking about making turnovers and knocking the ball loose. The last one we got was Marquies Gunn in the South Carolina game and he turned around and fumbled it right back to them. You have to talk about it and think about it and hopefully those things happen. The big play has escaped us for a while."

That has been particularly showing in the passing game with the longest play from the wide receivers other than Rodgeriqus Smith being 25 yards by Courtney Taylor. The production is missing down the line at the position and Tuberville says that is something they're trying to remedy in practice.

"Something has to change because we're not scoring any points," he adds. "It's not that we're not productive throwing to Courtney and Rod, but we probably need to spread it around a little more."

This game will be the second big recruiting weekend for the Tigers as a few hundred prospects and high school coaches are expected in for the Florida game. Tuberville says this is a chance to once again show those guys a good time and also sell them on playing football for the Tigers.

"We'll have a lot of visitors," Tuberville says. "We have no tickets. This is kind of like the Iron Bowl or Georgia, very similar. An overwhelming amount of people want to come to the game, recruits and coaches, which is good. Last week wasn't a big demand and the early morning had something to do with it. (Being a night game) is a big difference when talking about recruiting. The players have an opportunity to come. A lot of teams practice and even play on Saturday mornings so they'll have the opportunity to come."

The Tigers will practice Thursday morning and head out of town Friday to prepare for Saturday's game. Kickoff for the showdown against Florida is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. CDT and can be seen on ESPN. The game can also be seen as part of ESPN 360 with several different camera angles and talk on both ESPN2 and ESPNU.


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