Position Change Highlights Wednesday Practice

A couple of surprises were the stories of the day for the Auburn Tigers on Wednesday as they continued practicing towards Saturday night's date with the Syracuse Orangemen.

Auburn, Ala.--Getting a break from the expected bad weather accompanying Tropical Storm Isidore, the Tigers were able to go outside and practice in full pads for close to two hours, which was a big break instead of splitting up into offensive and defensive groups to practice indoors.

Working on the game plan for Syracuse, both groups looked sharp with quarterback Daniel Cobb having one of his better days throwing the football despite the soggy conditions following a rainy Tuesday night.

"We were very fortunate today," Coach Tommy Tuberville said. "Mother Nature let us go outside. It was mostly a team practice working on what they (Syracuse) do on offense and defense. The thing we had to do was get outside and be able to use the entire football field to work on our down-and-distance defenses and the same thing on offense.

Quarterback Daniel Cobb throws to Jeris McIntyre during Wednesday's practice.

"We've had three good practices now and actually we're a little bit ahead of schedule. It's good we went a little earlier today and were off the field a little earlier. I think our players are going to be able to relax now a little bit tonight and get their legs back a little sooner. Hopefully, they're fired up about this weekend because we're going to need 86,000 people there all dressed in orange ready to go."

Defensively, Jake Slaughter made the move from fullback to linebacker because of injury problems to Antarrious Williams and freshman Tyrone Martin. With Mayo Sowell making such an impact at defensive end, the need for another linebacker was imminent in case of injury this week and Slaughter, because of his experience at the position, made the move. Tuberville said the redshirt freshman will be used similarly to Brandon Johnson in 2001, playing both sides of the ball in a reserve capacity. Slaughter said the chance for early playing time at linebacker makes the move exciting.

Jake Slaughter (44) watches Karlos Dansby do a drill with linebacker coach Joe Whitt looking on at right.

"From talking with the coaches, that's what I'm getting," Slaughter said. "If I can learn the system pretty quick and get in there and get some reps I can get some solid playing time come the middle of the year to the end of the year. It's pretty exciting."

Backup tailback Ronnie Brown will take up the backup role behind Brandon Johnson at fullback along with senior Michael Owens with Owens listed at second team. Finally healthy after suffering a sprained ankle during two-a-days, the senior from Tuscumbia saw his first action of the season against Vanderbilt and played at Mississippi State.

"This gives us a little more depth at linebacker," Tuberville said of the move of Slaughter. "But he'll play both positions and we'll see how that works. This week he'll just be a linebacker because we have Michael Owens back 100 percent. We just don't have enough depth at linebacker."

Camera crews from ESPN are taping Auburn's week in preparation for the Syracuse game to be shown in a special segment next Thursday (Oct.3) on the network at 11 p.m. Central time. Courtney Taylor (86), a true freshman wide receiver who is being redshirted, runs a sideline route in Wednesday's practice.

After sitting out Sunday's practice to rest his ankle, SEC Defensive Player of the Week Reggie Torbor was back practicing Wednesday and looked to be running around fine in defensive drills. Defensive tackle Spencer Johnson didn't practice but did run on the side and rode a stationary bicycle for most of the practice. He's expected to be back on Thursday. Tuberville said both should be fine for Syracuse when Saturday night rolls around.

The Tigers will use Thursday's practice to polish the game plan for Syracuse and work on special teams, something they didn't have a chance to work on extensively in Wednesday's practice. Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 8 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN2.

Tiger Walk participants for this week are members of the 1957 National Championship Team plus NFL players Stephen Davis, Fred Beasley and Marcus Washington. The pre-game trip down Donahue Drive towards Jordan-Hare Stadium is scheduled to begin at 5:50.


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