Tigers Work on Tempo in Wednesday Practice

Auburn, Ala.--After working on fundamentals, conditioning and the basics during two-a-days and splitting into scout team earlier this week, the Auburn football team did full speed 11 on 11 work on Wednesday to work on substitutions and tempo of the game with kickoff to the 2007 season 11 days away.

"It's more for the speed, the communication, the tempo of the 25-second clock, signaling it in, running kicking teams on and off the field," explained head coach Tommy Tuberville. "All of those things that you don't think about but need to work on probably more than you need to do going into the first game.

"Some of these young (defensive) guys don't realize how quick of a turn-around the offense goes and how quick you have got to get in on substitutions and how you've got to be ready for special teams--if you're on defense or offense. We've got to do a lot of that. We've got so many guys that are first-year players."

Auburn worked on kickoffs for the first 15 minutes of practice and did about 30 minutes of scout team drills before sending the first offense vs. the first defense and the second offense vs. the second defense for approximately 80 plays.

"We put the quarterbacks under the gun and moved the ball around and made them throw it and gave the defense the upper hand," Tuberville noted. "I thought Brandon (Cox) and Blake (Field) did a real good job, and Kodi Burns. Those are the only three quarterbacks that worked."

Down to just two full-speed running backs, Brad Lester and Ben Tate, there was no tackling as they worked mostly on game flow. Without tackling, it was hard to have any standouts on defense, but cornerback Jerraud Powers had another interception.

When asked if any of the offensive players stood out, coordinator Al Borges replied, "No, not really." However, he said his players are getting better from a mental aspect.

"It was okay and our tempo is getting a little better," Borges said. "We're still with execution not where we needed to be, but we're making less mental mistakes and that excites me. I know once we're not making mental mistakes we'll be better technique-wise. The more guys have to think, the worse their technique is."

Wide receivers, the offensive line and the kicking game have been mentioned as potential weaknesses of the 2007 Tigers, but Tuberville had positive words for all three following the practice. He noted that he's not concerned with a pair of freshmen linemen, Mike Berry and Lee Ziemba, running with the first team on the right side.

"With what we've put them through, they're not new guys anymore. If they can put up with what we put them through in two-a-days--even if you're a freshman...We're not going to have them out there if they can't do it. The biggest thing is keeping the focus and understanding it.

"One of the strengths of what we've been doing the last few days has been our kicking game," Tuberville added. "I've been real pleased with our kickers, punters and returners. We've got to do it in a game, but we've done a lot of improving in the last three weeks. It's been fun to watch these guys compete and get better."

The injury news was positive as the Tigers got back several players who have missed time throughout camp.

Eddie Gran got one of his players back on Wednesday. Running back and kick returner Mario Fannin has been slowed by a sore groin, but saw some non-contact action.

"We got Carl Stewart back and he's going about half a practice," Tuberville said. "He has no pain, it's just that we want to ease him into it. Also Montez Billings is the same way. Both get a little sore and that's just part of it. I hope to get them back full speed at least by the end of the week, possibly by Sunday.

"Mario (Fannin) was back and he went about half the time," he added. "We want to ease him back into it. He's probably better off than Montez and Carl. (Tim) Hawthorne went. We're starting to get most of the guys back. We'll have some guys that get beat up a bit. We're going to go hard all the way through Sunday, have a lot of contact and then after Sunday it'll be trying to get them fresh for the end of the week.

"Bo Harris was back out there today full-speed, hitting people and making plays. It was good to see him back."

Auburn will return to practice on Thursday at 8:15 a.m. and will spend time working against the offensive and defensive scout teams. The Tigers may also have a practice similar to the Wednesday session on Friday to work on offensive and defensive execution in an 11 on 11 setting before taking the day off on Saturday. Sunday officially marks the opening of "game week" in which the Tigers will be in their regular routine.

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