Auburn, Ala.--Trying to practice with heavy, soaking rains in the area, the Auburn Tigers (6-1) worked out for two hours Tuesday morning as they prepare to face the Tulane Green Wave in non-conference action this Saturday. Coach Tommy Tuberville says that the rain made for a tough morning but the team pushed through to get the job done and actually had one of its better practices.
"The bad weather I think was welcome from our players," Tuberville says. "It was a change of pace. It has been a long season. We've got five more weeks to go in the regular season. Sometimes you need a change in atmosphere. The guys practiced good and practiced hard. We found out whether we could throw or catch a wet ball and hold on to it.
"It was a very physical practice. It was one that you don't know what you're going to get out of your players when you go out. It wasn't raining very hard when we started but by the end we had one of those Arkansas toad stranglers. It was coming down pretty good. Our guys had a lot of fun."
On the injury front the Tigers practiced without safety Aairon Savage and fullback Carl Stewart on Tuesday. Savage has a stinger suffered against Florida but should return this week and will be ready on Saturday. Stewart has a bruised leg but should also return says Tuberville. Tailback Kenny Irons continues to be bothered by a turf toe and slight ankle sprain but practiced on Tuesday as did guard Tim Duckworth who suffers from the normal bumps and bruises of an offensive lineman.
Tuberville says there is possibly some very good news for the Tigers on the offensive side of the ball as seniors Joe Cope (knee) and Cole Bennett (ankle) are both ahead of schedule in the rehab from their injuries. Even though both have some work to do Tuberville says they could return as early as the Arkansas State game if things continue to go well.
One of the players practicing hard as usual was linebacker Tray Blackmon. In action last week for the first time this season because of a six-game suspension, the redshirt freshman immediately made an impact on the field with his full speed play and reckless attitude on the field. Tight end Tommy Trott says that he's one guy that is definitely glad to see Blackmon back on the defense because he's off the scout team.
"He's just a one gear kind of guy," Trott says of Blackmon. "He's always going full speed it doesn't matter what he's doing. Whether it's a half-speed drill or not he'll come up and pop you. Nothing is worse than seeing the line counting down realizing Tray Blackmon is on the other side. He's full speed all the time. He gave us great looks on the scout team but I'm not going to lie, it's kind of nice for him to be back on the defense."
Blackmon takes it to Andrew McCain at an earlier practice.
Trott says that he learned his lesson in last week's game about wrapping up the football after his fumble cost the Tigers a shot at a touchdown. He says the team has also learned a lot this year and one of those things is to take each week as a challenge. The Buffalo game earlier this year was a teaching tool for the coaches to show the players they can't just walk on the field and expect to win each week.
"We've talked about it," Trott says. "We're going to have to go out and compete this week. Tulane has a good team. They beat Mississippi State so they've beaten a SEC team. We're definitely not looking past them. I'm not saying we looked past Arkansas but we know we can be beaten. We have to come out there and play every game."
The Tigers will practice Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning as they get ready for the Green Wave. Saturday's kickoff for the homecoming game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and there is no television for the contest.