Auburn Football Notes From Los Angeles

News and notes on the football Tigers are featured as Auburn prepares for the 2002 season opener vs. the University of Southern California.

Los Angeles, Calif.--Tommy Tuberville says he can never be absolutely sure how a team will perform in its opening day game, but the head football coach of the Auburn Tigers says just hours before kickoff that he is optimistic his football team will play well.

Auburn and USC square off on Labor Day with kickoff set for shortly after 7 p.m. CDT (5 p.m. PDT, local time) at the coliseum, the home of the University of Southern California Trojans. This is just the second ever meeting between the two teams. Auburn won the previous encounter by a 16-7 score in the 1987 Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

"This is a great opportunity for us," says Tuberville of the game that will be televised nationally by ABC with the legendary Keith Jackson calling the action.

Senior linebacker Mark Brown says he believes the Tigers will play well even though his team is a touchdown underdog to the home squad. "I think we have been ready for this game for several days," he says. "This should be a good season for the defense. We have a lot of good players who have experience. We have looked good in practice. The offense is younger, but you can see signs that they are coming around, too."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Fans attending the game will probably be able to see a large cloud of smoke billowing several thousand feet into the sky from the mountains east of the coliseum where a forest fire has been raging...Auburn fans have made themselves known, even in a huge city like Los Angeles with dozens of large suburbs. Tiger fans have been seen at the beaches, parks, museums, restaurants and other attractions for several days prior to kickoff from Santa Barbara to the north to San Diego south of LA...There has been no sightseeing for the Tigers, who have been holed up at the luxurious digs at the Hyatt in Century City, next door to Beverly Hills. The Tigers have made a pair of trips to the coliseum for very light practices on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The Saturday session, which followed a long plane ride to California, featured team drills. The Sunday visit to the coliseum was more of a chance for individual players to loosen up and get a feel for the stadium, which has a flat field, unlike Jordan-Hare Stadium that is crowned to make it easier for water to run away from the center field if there is heavy rain...Freshman defensive lineman T.J. Jackson worried before the trip that he would be nervous about flying. Jackson was on the way to the airplane's restroom facility when the plane hit turbulence. A stewardess strapped in the wide-eyed 300-pounder in the nearest seat she could find until the plane found smoother air.

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