Auburn, Ala.--Coming off an emotional victory over Florida last week it would be easy to understand if the Auburn Tigers had problems getting ready to face the Tulane Green Wave but that hasn't been the case at all says offensive coordinator Al Borges. With the thoughts of the Arkansas game still fresh on their minds, Borges says the team has been very focused on the task at hand.
"We've had very good practices particularly today," Borges says. "It was an excellent week of practice. The kids have worked hard and the atmosphere has been good. We've recovered pretty well. I hope we play like it."
Despite the lack of an off-week this year with the 12-game schedule the Tigers have been fortunate on the injury front with just Joe Cope and Cole Bennett definitely out for this week's contest. There are several guys that will be on the borderline of playing though says Borges. The most likely of those is fullback Carl Stewart. Bothered by a sprained foot the junior hasn't practiced this week and that means sophomore Michael McLaughlin will likely get the call. Borges says that shouldn't hinder the offense at all and will also allow them to experiment some at the position with another player.
"Carl didn't go today," Borges says. "I don't know how that's going to shake out. It's going to be a game time decision. Mike is very capable. We have used Mike in the last few games in some situations. He's very capable. Then we'll use Ben Tate maybe a little too."
Ben Tate could see action this weekend for the Tigers.
A true freshman, Tate could be headed for playing time at both the tailback and fullback spots this week with Kenny Irons still struggling with a turf toe injury. Borges says that they're planning on using the talented freshman this week to make sure he's ready if needed at the end of the year.
"I think that's the way it's going to work out," Borges says. "It just looks that way right now. With Kenny struggling with his health we need another guy and he's ready. Ben told me he's ready. Mentally he's ready. He's young and he'll make mistakes but he's smart. He picks things up fast."
One player that seems to be rounding into shape even after playing games is quarterback Brandon Cox. Banged up against LSU, Cox has gradually gotten better and Borges says that he appears close to full speed once again as the Tigers get ready for homecoming.
"He got sacked five times (against Florida) but he didn't really get hit hard," Borges says. "He's the first one to tell you that it was probably the least physically beat he's been after a game. He just didn't take a lot of big shots. He made it through another week healthy and those are always good. It gave him another week to get better."
This week Borges and the offense will face a Tulane defense that has struggled to slow down anyone this season. Giving up 35.7 points per game and 411 total yards, the Green Wave has been more of a trickle on defense this season but Borges says they do some things very well and Auburn will have to make sure they account for that on Saturday.
"I think they play pretty good as a team," Borges says. "They have gone through some players but I think the concept and structure of their defense is very sound. You can tell they've done some research on it. They do a good job of getting you in third down and bringing some creative blitzes. They can cause you some problems."