Auburn, Ala.--Wanting to break up the monotony of bowl practices Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville took his team inside Jordan-Hare Stadium on Monday for a two-hour practice in full pads as the Tigers begin actual preparation for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Tuberville says the practice was good as the team responded well to a change in location.
"It was a good practice, Tuberville says. "We started on Nebraska today. Everything went good. Marquies Gunn got a little banged up with his neck but he'll be fine. He should be back before we leave for the bowl game. Other than that it was a good day. Tomorrow we'll be back on the practice field but today we decided to come over and break up the monotony."
After focusing much of the attention in the first three bowl practices on the young guys the Tigers spent the majority of Monday's practice getting introduced to Nebraska's offense and defense. While Tuberville says they'll continue to work the young guys Monday was all about the Cornhuskers.
"We're still doing a lot of team stuff," Tuberville says. "We worked on more special teams today. We just started putting in the gameplan on both sides. We'll have 50 percent of our gameplan in before we leave and we'll put the other 50 percent in when we get to Dallas."
Wide receiver Robert Dunn snares a pass during Monday's practice.
The work on special teams has undergone some changes with several Tigers out of the Cotton Bowl game because of suspensions or injury. Kevin Sears, Tray Blackmon and Lorenzo Ferguson all were a vital part of the special teams as was Brad Lester. Their replacements good a lot of work in on Monday with Patrick Lee taking over for Lester as the deep man on kickoffs with Tristan Davis.
While Lee will take over the kickoff return duties Lester's replacement on offense will likely come from a number of different players. Behind Kenny Irons the Tiger will use Tre Smith, Ben Tate and Carl Stewart to pick up the slack. Monday Tate had one of his best practice days of the year with several good runs and appears to be making his case for extra work against Nebraska.
Using the first practices to get a head start on spring practice, the Tigers have gotten good looks at several key redshirt freshmen and back-ups that will be a major part of the plans in 2007. Tuberville says because of that the young guys are a little worn down after getting little if any work much of the fall.
"It has gone good," Tuberville says. "They are beat up and tired because they have to go all through practice and then do 30 minutes extra. We don't make them do any running with the other guys. They are doing good. They are holding in there and getting a lot of good work in. They are working strictly on fundamentals.
"They are so tired by the time we get to them they are just trying to struggle through it," he adds. "It's a good group. They have been through a lot and we've put them through a lot. They're going to earn their freshmen year, I promise you. Bowl games for freshmen are not as fun as what they hoped it would be."
The Tigers will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before taking a break over Christmas. The team will begin assembling in Dallas at the hotel on Tuesday Dec. 26 and practices will resume Wednesday the 27th at 11:30 a.m. at SMU.