Auburn, Ala.--After taking both Sunday and Monday off to rest, the fifth-ranked Auburn Tigers (9-1) got back on the practice field Tuesday morning with a two-hour practice in full pads. With heavy rains in the area much of the day the Tigers got soaked throughout practice but coach Tommy Tuberville says it didn't dampen the enthusiasm of his team.
"We had a very good practice even though it was one of those good toad stranglers," Tuberville says. "We needed to practice and went outside. Our guys fought through it. It was very wet but the focus was good. Obviously playing a team like Georgia it's going to have to be good and need to be very consistent."
The rain brought some tough conditions for the team but it was good for them to see for really the first time this season. Tight end Tommy Trott says the transition to catching a wet football was troublesome at first but by the end of the day the receivers were catching the ball well.
On the injury front the Tigers are in good shape offensively as quarterback Brandon Cox, running back Kenny Irons, center Joe Cope and guard Tim Duckworth all practiced and should be closer to 100 percent this weekend than they've been in many weeks. Tight end Cole Bennett says that his ankle still isn't ready and he's doubtful before the bowl game for the Tigers. As for this week Tuberville says Cope will once again share duties with Jason Bosley this week to keep both players fresh.
Unfortunately that's not the case on defense where safety Eric Brock is doubtful for this weekend's game because of an ankle injury. Even though the junior says he's holding out hope he'll be ready Tuberville says that Brock won't play and the job will go to sophomore Lorenzo Ferguson with Tristan Davis and Jerraud Powers providing depth.
"Lorenzo Ferguson will be the starter," Tuberville says. "Tristan Davis is back. We've got plenty of guys there that have played but you hate to lose a guy with the experience that Eric's got. Lorenzo played very well last week. Tristan didn't get to play but he's played quite a bit this year. Both of those guys will play and alternate in and out. Jerraud Powers has worked some at safety this week and that gives us somebody else in there to play that position."
Ferguson is a physical player that has shown up well in limited action this season.
Expected to get just the second start of his career with the first coming last weekend against Arkansas State, Ferguson is a physical player that just seems to be coming into his own as a player. He says he's looking forward to playing in such a big game and he's working hard to be up for the challenge.
"Right now we've got a three-man rotation with me, Jerraud and Savage," Ferguson says. "Right now Tristan is really working it in. He didn't practice that much today. He did mostly rehab. I feel comfortable because I played the whole game last week. Even though it's a big game I feel confident. It's exciting because it's my first time playing in a big game. I'm going to be ready."
Practicing lightly while doing some continuing running and rehab to strengthen his strained hamstring, Davis says that he's ready to face the home state Bulldogs this weekend. With many friends on the Georgia team including best friend Ramarcus Brown, Davis says that he'll be ready to go by Saturday.
"My leg is doing a lot better," Davis says. "I have a lot of strength back. Today while I was running it got tired easy so I'm trying to get more endurance in it. For the most part I've gotten all the power back. I expect to play Saturday. I did a lot of running and conditioning."
With Brock not expected to play the job of leadership at the position falls to a redshirt freshman in Savage. The most experienced of the group, he says that the group is talented and should be able to get the job done Saturday.
"Unfortunately for Brock he went down but somebody has to step up," Savage says. "We had a good practice today at the safety position. We communicated good across the board to each other and to the corners and linebackers. Any time we communicate it makes life easier. We can all play the position. Everybody is talented and we're going to go from there."
With Davis held out of last week's game both Savage and Ferguson got plenty of opportunities to mesh at the position when Brock went down. Because of the time spent together on the field Davis says the two have built a bond that has continued this week in practice.
"It helped a whole lot for everybody's confidence," Savage says. "With him playing extremely well last week it gives us confidence going into this week. We're going to build off that. Jerraud worked there too and once again it's all about communicating. He played a little safety in high school and he was back there today. We told him what to do and he was all about it.
"Last night we were at home I called him our utility guy," he adds on Powers. "He told me they were going to put him at safety. He's a tremendous athlete. You can put him anywhere, corner, nickel, he could play running back."