Tuberville: Another Good Practice for Tigers

Comments from Auburn's head football coach are featured following Thursday's practice.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Tommy Tuberville called Thursday's practice another productive one as the Auburn Tigers continued preparations for Saturday evening's SEC football showdown vs. the No. 2 ranked Florida Gators.

The Tigers worked vs. their scout teams as they drilled on the game plan with the 6-0 Gators coming to Jordan-Hare Stadium for a game that will be televised on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU at 6:45 p.m. Despite all of the TV coverage, it is a very tough ticket to find.

"It has been good a week, a lot of enthusiasm, the guys are focused," Tuberville said.

Tuberville noted he doesn't think there will be any hangover from the players or coaches from last Saturday's home loss to Arkansas. "If you think about about whether you won or lost, and you are getting ready to play a good team, you are getting ready talk about another one. That hasn't even come up all week."

Auburn's head coach noted that redshirt freshman Tray Blackmon will likely open the game as a backup to Merrill Johnson at weakside linebacker. This will be Blackmon's first game to play for the Tigers after serving a six-game suspension.

"He is doing real good," Tuberville said of Blackmon. "But his tempo is always the same now. Don't get in his way. He's full speed. He is excited about being out there. I don't know how he will play, how he will react. Remember, this is his first rodeo. This is a pretty good opening game."

Blackmon's play was one of the highlights of spring training and he has developed a reputation as a physical linebacker. "I think he might be the playmaker we have been looking for--a guy causing fumbles, getting to the quarterback quicker or interceptions," Tuberville said. "Again, we don't want to expect too much out of him. He is going to be a good football player and his motor runs fast. That is what we like about him. He has a lot to learn about what we are doing."

In other news:

*Backup tailback Brad Lester practiced on Thursday, but how much he will play vs. the Gators is not known, Tuberville said. "He ran some today--not as much as we would have hoped, but he still has 48 hours or a little more than that until we play." Offensive coordinator Al Borges said he is more optimistic that Lester will be ready to play on Saturday night after running plays on Thursday.

*Senior Tre Smith and junior Carl Stewart could also see action at tailback behind Kenny Irons, who is making progress from a series of nagging injuries that have slowed him, Borges said.

*Backup cornerback Pat Lee has been getting ready to return kickoffs this week along with Tristan Davis with Lester trying to get to full speed.

*Steve Gandy, who has worked at weakside linebacker, is now seeing practice time at the strongside now that Merrill Johnson has moved from middle linebacker to the weakside and with Blackmon at weakside linebacker.


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