Auburn, Ala.--With the thoughts of Saturday's loss to Georgia on the backburner the Auburn Tigers (9-2) got back to work Tuesday morning with a two-hour practice in full pads as they prepare to face Alabama in Saturday's Iron Bowl. Coach Tommy Tuberville says this game is one the teams prepare for all season and he feels like his team is ready to play and play well.
"We're excited and this is going to be a big challenge for us coming off a defeat last week," Tuberville says. "We're going to find out a little bit more about our team as we go through the week and also as we get to the game on Saturday. It should be a fun game for fans, players, and coaches. Hopefully it's another great Iron Bowl."
With quarterback Brandon Cox and tailback Kenny Irons both practicing and looking close to full speed Tuberville says the team responded with a very good practice. Defensively safety Eric Brock didn't practice with the team but ran and did some cutting on the side during the practice. He says he's hopeful he'll be able to practice on Wednesday and play this weekend.
If Brock is unable to go the Tigers will likely play two or even three different players at his position with Jerraud Powers, Tristan Davis and Lorenzo Ferguson all getting reps with the first team Tuesday morning. Tuberville says he likes the attitude and effort he saw out of his team during the practice.
"It went good," Tuberville says of Tuesday's practice. "If it doesn't go well this week something's wrong. I don't care what happened last week this is the one you come to Auburn and go to Alabama to play. This is for pride.
"We always cut back a little bit during the Iron Bowl to get them a little bit fresher knowing that the game plan, we've been working on that all year long anyway," he adds. "We always do a few different things but it usually comes down to the players once you tee it off at 2:30. We want to make sure our guys are fresh and ready to go."
Seniors Kenny Irons and Joe Cope hope to get the running game going this Saturday against Alabama in their final regular season game as Tigers.
With the spirits always high this week it's no surprise that the practice was a good one. Even the players noticed a difference in the energy and enthusiasm during the workout. Senior center Joe Cope says he knew the offense was doing well and after talking with some teammates the defense did as well.
"I talked to some of the defensive guys and they said they had a real good practice today, too," Cope says. "We heard them down on the other side of the field and they were fired up, the coaches were getting on to them and there were a lot of pads popping out there today. It felt good to get that emotion back out there on the practice field."
The kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and can be seen nationally on CBS. Tuberville says he knows his team is going to be in for a battle Saturday and he expects the most hostile crowd the Tigers have seen this season. With many young players getting to experience the game for the first time Tuberville says they have spent some time this week talking to them about the game in the hopes they'll be ready when the time comes because in the end it's all about the players.
"This is for all the marbles and bragging rights," Tuberville says. "We've had that for a few years. We've got a lot of guys on this team that have not played in this game that will play this year. Some redshirted last year. Most of these guys have not played in Tuscaloosa. We've been on the road three times this year but not in any atmosphere like we'll see Saturday. We addressed that today. That's home field advantage and we understand that.
"My best feeling about this game is to let the players play it," Tuberville adds. "Take the coaching out of it, do the things you're good at, get them ready to play mentally and physically, get them rested, get them to the game site and let them play. Players are going to win this game on either side who ever wins it."