Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers (9-2) got some much needed good news on the injury front as junior safety Eric Brock returned to the practice field for the first time since injuring his ankle against Arkansas State two weeks ago. Coach Tommy Tuberville says that Brock looked good running around and he expects to see him on the field Saturday.
"Brock is back practicing," Tuberville says. "Lorenzo Ferguson and Tristan (Davis) will be out there. We'll just have to wait and see once we get through practice tomorrow on who is going to be the starter. He moved around and ran around good. He's going to be sore but so will about nine other guys out there."
Brock's return was the only good news on a day when the Tigers struggled to get everything accomplished because of severe weather in the area. With heavy rains and tornado warnings in the area much of the afternoon the practice fields were deluged with water. That forced the offense inside for much of the day while the defense worked on the turf field in the rain. Tuberville says it caused them to have to change some things they did on Wednesday.
"There's not much you can do on a cold, wet afternoon, but we got a little done," Tuberville says. "We went about an hour and 15 minutes working on our gameplan and trying to get them all fresh and ready to go. The attitude is good but we need it to quit raining so we'll be able to get outside.
"You have to separate them up and put them in different spots," he adds about the wet practice. "It just breaks you continuity down a little bit."
A beautiful sky enveloped the Tigers as the rain subsided late in the practice.
It may be a concern for some that the Tigers have been forced to shorten practices this week but that's something that Tuberville says has been the plan all along. Playing for the 12th consecutive week has made for a long season and Tuberville says they're hoping to get the team as fresh as possible and let them just play football come Saturday.
"At the end of the year you always cut back anyway. Most practices you go about two hours. Yesterday was about an hour and 20 minutes. As long as you get it done. We had pretty weather yesterday but we had to go a little bit longer today because we were separated. You just work on it (gameplan) until you feel like you've got it done.
"We've been running this offense all year long," he adds. "On defense you pick out your best ones and go. That's the bottom line. Whenever you play a game like this you don't have to worry about motivation. If your guys don't play hard then they're on the wrong team. The attitude has been good. That's what I worry about all week."
On the injury front Tuberville says the Tigers are in good shape with both Brandon Cox and Kenny Irons practicing and moving well. Defensively, Tuberville says that Jonathan Wilhite is scheduled to start at cornerback with Patrick Lee expected to see plenty of action as well.
"From my understanding over the years this thing can't get any more hostile and it's not going to be any more hostile this year than it has been in the past," Tuberville says of the pre-game buildup. "Of course, there are the circumstances of four in a row, but it's all about winning a game. It's fans versus fans and team versus team. The best team will win the game. I hear a lot of talk, but talk doesn't ever win any games."
Much of the talk has come from the other side of the state this week as Alabama's players have taken offense to the Tigers holding up four fingers following last season's victory in Jordan-Hare Stadium. There has also been mention of the "Fear The Thumb" talk, something that Tuberville nor any of the players have mentioned this season. With the chance to get in a war of words Tuberville says his team will remain quiet and instead focus on the task at hand.
"Our players are pretty good," Tuberville says. "We don't talk in the newspapers. We try to do our talking on the field if we do any. Hopefully, we do a little this week."
The Tigers will practice on Thursday in Auburn before heading out of town Friday afternoon. The kickoff for Saturday's Iron Bowl game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and can be seen nationally on CBS.