Auburn, Ala.--It was a quick turnaround for the Auburn Tigers as they practiced early Thursday morning after being on the field until 7 p.m. on Wednesday but Coach Tommy Tuberville said despite some tired legs he was pleased with what he saw out of his team. Now just nine days away from opening day, Tuberville says his team is beginning to take shape but there is still plenty of work to do before its ready for Kansas State.
"When you have back-to-back practices like that in less than 12 or 14 hours it's kind of tough but you find out a lot about your guys," Tuberville said. "We're getting a little better. We're not there yet. We've got a lot of work to do. The younger guys are starting to learn how the practice. Then when you go into scout team mode it makes it that much more important. We need an evaluation and the only way to get an evaluation is to play somebody else. We've got another week before that happens."
On the injury front the Tigers got Mario Fannin back on Wednesday and Tuberville said he looked even better on Thursday running around. With several key players out Thursday, mostly on offense, Tuberville said it's getting close to crunch time for them to have enough time to get ready for the opener. That means they need to be ready to go Sunday in his mind if they hope to have a chance to contribute.
"It was a good day," Tuberville says. "It was a little more upbeat at first with the cooler temperatures but we kind of hit the wall. It was good to seen Fannin back out there and a few more guys. Bo Harris is getting a lot of good reps. We held out Slusher (Brent Slusher) today. He bruised up his arm pretty good. He'll probably be out until Sunday. Leon Hart is not out there. Montez Billings didn't go very long nor did Carl Stewart. Hopefully they'll be back out there soon but they did go some."
Carl Stewart is a player the Tigers are hoping to get back full speed for the season opener.
Stewart is a key player for Auburn's offense and is a big part of both the running and passing game for the Tigers. Last season he finished fourth on the team in receptions with 13 and tied for second with two receiving touchdowns. Tuberville says it's important to get him back on the field as soon as possible.
"He made a lot of big plays," Tuberville says of Stewart. "He can play fullback, tailback, he can be the move guy back and forth. He's a universal player and it's hard to find those guys. Carl has got a lot of experience and when called upon always makes big plays. It's important that we get him back there for his experience and leadership."
Auburn started scout team work for Kansas State earlier in the week and Tuberville said on Thursday the team worked about 50 or 60 percent of the time becoming more familiar with what the Wildcats do on offense and defense. Being the first opponent on the schedule means Auburn has been forced to watch games from last season to get a feel for the offense while also watching defensive tapes from Virginia to get a feel for what the Wildcats will do on that side of the ball. Tuberville said one thing is for sure and that is the Tigers will be tested right away in 2007.
"I have watched about six months of it," Tuberville says of Kansas State film. "They're good. They've got a good team. They'll be one of the better teams we play all year. They're coming off a year last year with a new coach and the second year of doing the things they did last year will probably make them even better. They've got a good quarterback."
The Tigers will have another mock scrimmage on Friday on the practice fields before taking a final Saturday off as they head into game week beginning with Sunday's practice. Tuberville says he wants to get another substitution and situational practice in before they turn things over to full-time scout team work.
"We'll do about what we did last night," Tuberville says. "It will be later in the day. I don't know whether it will be at night but it will be later. We'll go to the stadium next week."