Tommy Tuberville put his team through a very light get out the kinks type of workout on Tuesday evening. The Tigers arrived back on campus at 7 a.m. after taking an all night charter flight home from Los Angeles.
Tuberville says his team has the normal bumps and bruises that would be expected from a physical opening game with an opponent like Southern Cal, but says he is hopeful the Tigers came away from the West Coast without too much damage in the injury department. He notes that it is essential to the team's development that key players stay healthy this fall.
The Auburn team doctors and trainers will be keeping a close eye on two of their key offensive players this week. Carnell "Cadillac" Williams was bothered by a problem with his kneecap in addition to suffering cramps just before halftime in Los Angeles. The difference in his play before and after the problems was like day and night. He had 96 yards in the first half and looked very good doing it. He was limited to minus three yards rushing in the final two quarters and definitely was a step slower than normal.
Senior center Ben Nowland, the most experienced player on the offensive line, suffered a knee sprain and rolled his ankle in the second half of the game although he returned to action. Tommy Tuberville said on Tuesday that it is uncertain if the fifth-year senior will be cleared to play against Western Carolina. If Nowland is unable to go, look for true freshman Troy Reddick to get the start at weak guard in place of sophomore Danny Lindsey, who will move to center, the position he played last year and in the spring.
Tuberville stated that he doesn't like the idea of making those kind of moves because he wants to see a starting five offensive line group stay together week after week and build chemistry. The Auburn coach said after grading video of the game that the offensive line did some good things in the opener although there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Auburn fans line up for the first Tiger Walk of the 2002 season in Los Angeles outside the coliseum.
Tuberville noted that linebacker Tyrone Martin is definitely out of action for game two with a neck injury suffered on kickoff coverage. Another true freshman linebacker, Lemarcus Rowell, could see action in week two, Tuberville said. Rowell made the trip to Los Angeles, but stayed on the sideline and was not in uniform. Tuberville said that Rowell is recovering from an ankle problem and it is not certain he will be ready for this weekend so sophomore Mayo Sowell will get practice time at middle linebacker behind Mark Brown.
After studying the game video, Tuberville had praise for the performance of reserve sophomore tailback Ronnie Brown, who scored a touchdown on a heads-up midair recovery of a Daniel Cobb fumble just before halftime. With Brown using his strength to push the football across the goal line, the play enabled the Tigers to go into intermission tied at 14-14. He carried the ball nine times for 43 yards (4.8 yards per carry) while Williams ran the ball 21 times for 94 (4.5 yards per carry).
Brown said the loss was a tough pill to swallow because he and his teammates had worked so hard throughout the summer to get the 2002 season off to a winning start. When asked if the Tigers would have trouble getting off the mat and making a quick turnaround to get ready for Saturday's game, Brown said, "I don't think so. I think the game will help us realize what we have to do to win. We are going to have to eliminate our mistakes to be successful. We made more mistakes than they did and that is why they won the game."
Starting cornerback Carlos Rogers agrees with Brown that the loss is a tough one to take. "We are really disappointed in ourselves, but we will bounce back in the next game," the sophomore said. "The short turnaround time for is not going to be a problem. We will be able to handle it."
Tiger Ticket Extra: Southern California's major newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, gave the Auburn at USC game major coverage in its Tuesday editions with a banner headline across the top of the sports section. Approximately 20 percent of the 10-page sports section was about the second ever football game between the Tigers and Trojans...Coliseum security officials were surprised by the large and enthusiastic turnout for the pre-game Tiger Walk even though plans were made in advance to set up a location for the event with planning for traffic control outside the coliseum. There were so many people making the normal Tiger Walk noise during the event that a Los Angeles police department helicopter flew to the scene to check out what was happening...The general consensus of Auburn fans who made the trek to the West Coast seems to be that the game day experience at USC can't match Auburn, but the day at the coliseum generally got a thumbs up from Tiger fans...Kudos to Paul Ellen, Quentin Riggins, Stan White and other members of The Auburn Network post game radio show crew who rescued a wheel-chair bound Tiger fan who couldn't find a cab after the game and tried to roll back to his hotel by himself, a very dangerous thing to do at midnight in that section of Los Angeles...
Southern California fans enjoyed the pre-game festivities at the Inside the Auburn Tigers tailgate party at the coliseum in Los Angeles.
The Inside the Auburn Tigers tailgate party prior to the game that included approximately 200 Auburn fans plus 200 Trojan fans went smoothly with a lot of friendly pre-game fraternization with the football enemy. AU fans arrived at the affair from southern and northern parts of California with a good representation from Alabama and other Southeastern states. The fact that the tailgate location was in a grove of large, shady trees was appreciated on an afternoon with the mercury hovering around the 100 degree mark in that section of Los Angeles.