Rest, Recruiting Good for AU, Tuberville Says

Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about Auburn's recruiting and getting back to practice as the Tigers prepare to face Nebraska.

Auburn, Ala.--While much of the talk around college football in the South the last three weeks has centered on the coaching searches at several schools as well as troubles at Arkansas, Coach Tommy Tuberville and the Auburn Tigers have quietly gone about the business of finishing the fall semester in the classroom while also letting the bumps and bruises of a long season heal.

Finishing strongly with a fifth straight victory over Alabama for Auburn's second 10-win season in three years, Tuberville says that while the team could have done some practicing in recent weeks to keep the momentum going he felt like the best thing for his players was to get away from football for a while to recharge their batteries for the Cotton Bowl game against Nebraska.

"I have done it all different ways," Tuberville says. "This is my 16th or 17th bowl game to coach in and there's not a perfect way to do things.

"The thing we needed is, number one, we needed to get away from each other as coaches and players. Our guys needed to get back academically healthy 100 percent. There really was no reason for us to come back on weekends because number one we didn't know who to practice against until last weekend.

"Number two, we wanted to make sure the guys finish strong academically. We're going to get plenty of practices. You don't want more than 12 or 14 practices for a game and we're going to be at that or maybe a little bit more. We had 30 practices one year when we played Penn State while I was at Miami in 1986. I thought we were pretty much brain overloaded going into that game. We were much better than they were and lost 14-10.

"We want our guys to be fresh and enjoy being out of school with nothing but football for six or seven days before Christmas. I think this is the best way to do it, especially for us. Having 12 straight weeks without an open date, we needed a break mentally."

While the players have spent time studying while also working out and running with Kevin Yoxall and his staff, the coaches have been busy trying to put the finishing touches on what looks to be a promising recruiting class. With just a few spots remaining Tuberville says it hasn't kept his staff from working hard to make sure they finish with the guys they want.

"It has been a busy three weeks, probably the busiest time of the year for the coaches because you're recruiting and getting your players through finals and setting up recruiting weekends while also spending time with the players," Tuberville says. "Not to mention you're breaking down film and getting ready to put the game plan together in a short period of time. It has been pretty hectic.

"Our guys have worked through it well and recruiting is going great. We're getting close to being finished. We've just got a few left and we have a recruiting weekend this weekend."

Quarterback Brandon Cox has been hurt for much of the 2006 season, but should be closer to full speed against Nebraska.

The Tigers will begin bowl practices on Thursday with practices scheduled for Friday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before breaking for Christmas. Tuberville says that much of the time spent on the Auburn campus will be devoted to individual work as well as giving some of the younger players a chance to shine before spring practice.

"We'll have a big team meeting in the morning. We'll start special teams meetings and individual meetings before a two-hour practice on Thursday. Our emphasis this week is going to be on, number one, getting back to fundamentals for the first three days and working against ourselves blocking and tackling.

"At the end of each practice we're going to take the younger players and work them for 30 minutes in team drill and individual drills trying to get them ready for spring practice. We'll do that six or seven days. Hopefully, we'll get a lot out of that. All the way through Saturday we're going to work against ourselves. Monday we'll start putting in Nebraska things and starting working through that."

With a chance to win 11 games for just the fourth time in school history and for the second time under his guidance, Tuberville says that the team is looking for a strong finish this season against Nebraska. For that to happen several key players on both sides of the ball need to be healthy on New Year's Day. Tuberville says that the break the team had should work wonders for the health of his team and in turn that should help them perform better on game day.

"It has been a good layoff for our guys," the coach says. "They are mentally and physically fresh. We've done a lot of running and lifting, but we needed more of a mental break than a physical break. It has been a great year. Now we have the opportunity to go play against a good football team from the Big 12 and let our guys enjoy the reward that they've earned."

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