Productive Morning Practice For Tigers

Seniors Brandon Cox and Josh Thompson talk about Tuesday's practice that included the defense testing out their new jerseys.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers practiced for two hours in shells Tuesday morning as they get closer to the opening kickoff of the 2007 season against the Kansas State Wildcats Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Working on all phases of the gameplan, quarterback Brandon Cox said they had a good day on the field.

"Today we did a lot of scout team work and we got our gamplan in for K-State," Cox said. "We're just getting ready for that. Offensively we went out against the scouts and did some situational third down stuff and some goal line. We also did some red zone stuff too."

The good news for Cox and the offense was the return of left tackle King Dunlap to practice full speed. Cox said it was good to have the big man back on the field as they get ready for the Wildcats.

"It's harder to see passing now," Cox said while laughing, "but I'm glad he's back out there."

One player that hasn't returned to the practice field full speed is sophomore wide receiver Montez Billings. Because of that Cox said that at the moment he's expecting true freshman Chris Slaughter to get some work right away in the Auburn offensive attack.

"He's in the second rotation," Cox said. "I'm sure it just depends on Coach (Greg) Knox and his rotation but I believe he has a chance. I know he (Montez) has been running around a little bit but he hasn't been out in drills or anything. I'm not really sure (on his status)."

With just one real practice day remaining this week with Thursday and Friday more of a walk-through for the players and time spent on special teams, Cox said that he feels like the offense has come together nicely after struggling a little early in preseason camp.

The last couple of weeks we've really gelled as an offense," Cox said. "We've had some good productivity. The receivers were struggling early and we dropped some passes but they've really picked up their game. We've finally got a solid five guys on the offensive line and they've come together and been very consistent."

Pat Sims works in a drill while Jermarcus Ricks looks on.

Defensively the Tigers had a spirited day on the field according to senior Josh Thompson. Although he missed part of the day because of a class, Thompson said he feels like the defense is right on track after another good practice day.

"I missed part of practice but from talking to the guys it was real sharp," Thompson said. "Muschamp (defensive coordinator Will Muschamp) is always going to keep the tempo up against the scouts and the other offense. Every practice we've had a good tempo because Muschamp won't let you be down. It was a good day, a good learning day. We'll come out tomorrow and do the same thing.

"We've still got some little things to correct," he added. "You never know until you get in that first game situation but hopefully we'll have everything good enough so we can run the defense good Saturday. Hopefully things will work out."

If the Auburn defense is successful this season, likely one of the reasons why will be sophomore linebacker Tray Blackmon. After missing the first six games of last season because of a suspension, the LaGrange, Ga. native said he can't wait until Saturday night to get things started on the right foot in 2007.

"I can't explain it with words," Blackmon said. "I just have to stay focused on getting things right so I don't have to think while I'm out there. I'm about to explode. I can't wait until this weekend. It's like a whole other world for me, getting prepared for the first game and looking forward to the whole season."

Blackmon will be in the middle of the Auburn defense this year after playing on the weak side as a redshirt freshman last year. He said that he loves to be in the middle of the defense and is looking forward to showing everyone what he can do.

"I like it better than being on the weak side with most of the plays going away," he said. "I can go either way or kind of be an anchor for the defense in the middle. I think it's going to work out better than it did on the weak side."

Sunday it was the offensive day to wear the game jerseys to test them out for fit and to make sure there were no problems for anyone. On Tuesday it was the defense that wore the blue home jerseys to make sure everyone was good to go for Saturdays game.

Kickoff for Saturday night is scheduled for 6:45 and can be seen on ESPN. The Tigers have won 16 of their last 21 season openers and have an 87-25-2 overall record in opening games.

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