Tigers Looking to Get Healthy

Tommy Tuberville discusses the injury status of his team as well as the players of the game against Florida.

Auburn, Ala.--Playing the third consecutive Southeastern Conference game and having already lost two offensive starters until later in the season, Auburn was fortunate to not only get a 27-17 win over Florida but also escape without any serious injuries.

Kenny Irons, who carried the ball 13 times for 69 yards, came into the game with a lingering turf toe and also suffered a sprained ankle during the game.

"That's the reason we got Brad (Lester) in there," head coach Tommy Tuberville says. "(Irons) bounced back and it wasn't anything that was going to keep him from going the rest of the night. Once he came out and got Brad in the game, we saw how Brad responded. Then we started giving him more reps."

Lester finished with 17 carries for 94 yards and was named the co-offensive MVP with Rodgeriqus Smith, who caught three passes for 33 yards. Lester was also beat up heading into the game with a pulled groin that hampered him last week against Arkansas.

"Brad Lester had an outstanding day for him coming back and not practicing much during the week and showing that he still has the quickness he had last year," Tuberville notes. "He had good explosion and I think he had a little extra speed that Florida wasn't expecting on a few plays. It worked out for us."

Lester ran tough against the Gators despite an injured groin.

Quentin Groves, who had three sacks on Chris Leak, was named the defensive MVP. He was also responsible for the safety in the first quarter when he got tackled in the end zone by Gator offensive lineman Jim Tartt.

The Auburn defense got lit up in the first half by giving up 17 points, but it bounced back and shut down the Gators wide open offense in the final 30 minutes.

"Our defense wanted to play hard in the first half," Tuberville notes. "It's kind of hard to play hard when you're confused and you line up wrong. You look at what Florida does, we charted it one time and they run 147 formations throughout the year. That's hard to get lined up correctly every time. They had us guessing early and had us on our heels. I thought our coaches did a good job at halftime making an adjustment or two, getting them settled down and getting them to the point where they can play more aggressive football."

Kickoff specialist Matt Clark and kick returner Tristan Davis were selected as the special teams players of the week. Clark kicked off six times, all for touchbacks. Against a Gator special teams that allowed just 12.8 yards per kick return heading into the game, Davis had five returns for 124 yards including a 58-yarder.

Byron Isom, offense, and Mike Blanc, defense, were chosen as the scout team players of the week.

Aside from Joe Cope and Cole Bennett, all of the regulars are expected to give it a go this week against Tulane, although Lester's status may be questionable.

"Injury-wise we got a few guys beat up but it looks like everybody is going to be available for Tuesday's practice except Brad Lester," Tuberville notes.

"We're at the point in the season where we only have five games remaining," he adds. "We're going to play all of our starters. We're not counting that this is going to be an easy win. I know Tulane has only won two games, but all we have to do is look back at the Buffalo game where they moved up and down the field on us. We had to score late to ensure the victory. Coach (Chris) Scelfo has done a good job with what he's had to work with the last couple of years with the Hurricane. We won't take this game lightly, I promise you."

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