Well Rested Tigers Get Back To Work

The Auburn Tigers got back to work following the Christmas break with a two-hour football practice in full pads on Wednesday.

Dallas, Tex.--The 10th-ranked Auburn Tigers resumed practices for the AT&T Cotton Bowl Wednesday morning with a two-hour practice in full pads at SMU's Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

Coach Tommy Tuberville says the Tigers had a good first day at the bowl site and he likes the way his team is approaching the New Year's Day game against a tough opponent like Nebraska.

"It's great to be here," Tuberville says. "We had a good practice today. It's a great facility. We're thrilled about the weather and the hospitality here at the AT&T Cotton Bowl. It has been fun so far and we look forward to spending the next five or six days preparing for a very good Nebraska team.

"We're excited about it," Tuberville adds. "It's going to be a challenge for us. When you get to play a team in another conference we normally don't get to play very often it makes it fun for your players and gives you some enthusiasm for preparation.

"Being in a great city like Dallas is fun for us all. Our families are having a great time. Our players will really start their fun today with some events and will continue that the rest of the week.

"Our mindset is obviously to come here and have a good time, but to prepare and try to play the best possible game we can play. I don't think we played a great game all year long from top to bottom on offense and defense. We've got some guys back healthy now. I think we have a chance to play a good game, but obviously Nebraska will have something to say about that."

Tuberville gives a post-practice press conference in the suites at SMU's stadium on Wednesday.

Last season's bowl loss to Wisconsin is something that the Tigers have been reminded of almost daily this year and it is on the minds of every Auburn player this week as they get ready for the Cotton Bowl. Tuberville says this year they've approached the game week a little different by installing a portion of the game plan while in Dallas. He says that and a physical week of practice is what he's hoping will be the right recipe for this team to finish strong.

"Today they were very enthusiastic," Tuberville says. "We had a couple of fisticuffs out on the practice field, which is always good to see when you are practicing football because the intensity is up and they are competing hard. We've got a group that loves to practice and that is very unusual in this day and time. We push them pretty hard and they know what to expect.

"We told them before we broke at Auburn what to expect in the practices. They are going to be very physical. We're going to have physical practices all the way up to Friday and then we'll have walk-throughs on Saturday and Sunday before the game on Monday."

Quentin Groves works against Danny Perry in Wednesday's practice.

With five full days off from practice the Tigers come into game week as healthy as they have been all year, says Tuberville. With quarterback Brandon Cox, tailback Kenny Irons and wide receiver Courtney Taylor all moving around well Tuberville says that he's finally glad to see some key guys back on the field and is anxious to see how they perform.

"This football team got off to a slow start in the fact that we had some injuries that we didn't have a couple of years back," Tuberville says. "We had some guys and step in and play well. I thought with the injuries we had and with the loss of some seniors in key situations that we had last year that 10 wins was a very good year for us.

"I was proud of how our kicking game held this team together," he adds. "We have not played a great game on offense and defense together all year long. I would love to see how well, if we perform in all three areas, this team could play."

Brandon Cox practiced without his knees wrapped up for the first time since early in the 2006 season.

Cox is perhaps the key component for the Tigers. Banged up nearly all season long with both ankles and knees hurt, the junior has battled through the pain to lead the Tigers to 10 wins. He says that he enjoyed being able to practice without his legs braced and bandaged.

"It felt good," Cox says of practicing without pain. "We had a nice little break, but everybody was anxious to get back out here. We got a lot of rest last night and came out and had a great practice. Coach (Al) Borges said it was our best bowl practice that we've had. We got out here and got after it and had a real good practice.

"I'm not the fastest guy, but I felt like I could actually do a little running around today," he adds. "I felt good on my feet and moving around and had no pain. Today was the first time in a long time I have been able to do that."

The Tigers will practice Thursday morning at SMU before enjoying the sights and sounds of Dallas later in the night. Auburn's team will be at Lawry's Beef Bowl Thursday night before attending the Dallas Mavericks' game when they take on the Phoenix Suns. Kickoff for the New Year's Day game against Nebraska is scheduled for 10:40 a.m. and can be seen on the Fox Network.

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