Tigers Look Forward To Hitting The Road

Auburn's Tommy Tuberville talks about this week of practice and his team's focus heading into the Ole Miss game.

Auburn, Ala.--After three weeks playing at home the Auburn Tigers get back on the road this week at Ole Miss in an SEC game for Coach Tommy Tuberville's club.

Looking to stay within striking distance of Arkansas, Tuberville says his team is looking forward to playing on the road again to see how much improvement they've made since the trip to South Carolina.

"We had a little bit longer practice today on Thursday," Tuberville says. "There were some things added that were new so we thought we would go over them a little bit more and get more focus. It was a good practice week. I think our players are excited about playing on the road. We haven't been on the road in a month. They are excited about going to a new venue.

"I think they are just excited about something different," he adds. "When you have been home three weeks, one year we went five in a row at home, guys are clamoring to go somewhere else.

"This is our third one," he says. "We have played pretty decent on the road in our first two, not great by any stretch of the imagination. I think they've handled it well with the adjustment to a different place and the crowd. We executed pretty well, but didn't play well on defense. That's the only thing we didn't do at South Carolina. Hopefully we have improved since that point. I'm anxious to see how we play."

Auburn comes into Saturday's game relatively healthy as linebacker Tray Blackmon returned to practice on Thursday and should be ready to go this weekend after a bout of tonsillitis. In addition to tight end Cole Bennett, Tuberville says just one player is definitely out for this week's game.

"Everybody is pretty much healthy except for Kevin Sears (hamstring)," Tuberville says. "Tray is full speed. There wasn't anything wrong with his legs--it was his throat. His tonsils got bigger than basketballs. He got hurt last week, but he could have played during the game but it was time to pull him out anyway."

Tray Blackmon is back and ready to go at linebacker this week. In Sears' absence Merrill Johnson will play both middle and weakside linebacker for the Tigers.

In the backfield the Tigers come into Saturday's game in good shape as quarterback Brandon Cox, tailbacks Kenny Irons and Brad Lester plus fullback Carl Stewart all practiced this week and are ready to go this weekend. Offensive coordinator Al Borges says that Cox, Lester and Stewart all had good weeks, but he says Irons is still a little gimpy heading into Saturday's contest. If that is the case look for Lester to get more of the work similar to his role in the Florida game.

At center both Jason Bosley and Joe Cope practiced with Bosley expected to start Saturday's game. Just four weeks removed from a serious knee sprain suffered against South Carolina, Tuberville says Cope is getting closer to being ready but the job is still Bosley's at the moment.

"He's good," Tuberville says of Cope. "He's traveling and practiced today. He's not, by any stretch of the imagination, full speed, but he could play. He went about 50 percent in the South Carolina game and he's much better than that. Bosley will be our starter and Joe will go. He might go some and he might not. We'll just have to wait and see.

"He's sore," he adds of Bosley. "He's going to be sore the rest of the year. Knee injuries and ankles, once you turn them you're not off of them enough to get back 100 percent. He's done real good in practice. Tuesday was a little slow but (Wednesday) was almost 100 percent. Today he was a lot better. With 48 hours of rest he'll be fine."

True freshman Mike Berry will travel with the team and serve as an emergency offensive lineman in case he's needed. The spot opened up with Sears' injury. He won't travel this weekend to remain in Auburn for treatment. Mississippi native Hendrick Leverette has been away from the team this week because of the death of his grandmother in Mississippi. Tuberville says that Leverette will rejoin the team on Sunday.

The team will depart from Auburn on Friday morning and arrive at its hotel in Olive Branch, Miss., later in the day. Tuberville says that he's looking forward to going back to a place he once called home and says it always makes for a special day because of the friends he still has at Ole Miss.

"It wears off a little bit more each year, but it does for the simple reason that I've got a lot of friends there," Tuberville says. "They come over here and go to games here and stay at my house. I enjoy seeing them. Being there four years was fun. It's a good place. I enjoy going back."

The kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and can be seen on Lincoln Financial Sports stations around the South.

Premium Subscription Signup

Subscribe to Magazine Only

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories