Tigers Use Wednesday Practice to get Physical

Tommy Tuberville talks about a physical week of practice and gives an injury update.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn got a win in game one of the season, but there were some glaring weaknesses on the football team. When asked after Wednesday evening's practice what the Tigers had worked on all week before game two against South Florida, head coach Tommy Tuberville simply responded, "Blocking and tackling."

The Tigers had a longer than usual Wednesday practice in pads.

"It's been a hard work week for the guys," Tuberville noted. "You keep doing what you're doing, try to get better at what you're doing, don't change a lot other than you're going to stick some things in the game plan. You'll make some changes there, but this is a good offense. We've got to have confidence in it and keep going with it. We won a ball game probably hitting on about two out of eight cylinders on offense so that's pretty good."

With the focus of the game plan defensively centered around Bulls' quarterback Matt Grothe, Auburn freshman QB Kodi Burns has been playing that role on the scout team during practice while also taking a few reps with the regular offense.

"It's assignment football," Tuberville explained. "It's just like playing the option. The defense has to know it and they have to take the right angles. There is going to be one-on-one tackling and you've got to know how to do that. It's a little bit different from what we've seen. Kodi ran it for three years in high school so he knows it pretty good."

South Florida runs a spread offense with mostly three and four wide receiver sets, and Grothe is also a threat on the ground as well as backs Benjamin Williams and Mike Ford.

The defense did its job against Kansas State, but the offense must find some improvement in production. Tuberville said that it's better to fine-tune than to scrap the plan all together.

"We won a lot of games with what we're doing and you can't change in mid-stream with what your quarterback knows and what your offense knows," he said. "If you change you'd have to go to a whole new offense and you'd be susceptible to disaster. We'll change some formations and some thing. Hopefully we'll hold our composure and we don't lose our concentration and fundamentals, which we lost last week."

Along with Ben Tate (right), Mario Fannin (left) is hoping to be a bigger part of the running game against South Florida.

With only one practice remaining before the game, the injury update was mostly positive.

"We had just about everybody out there practicing today," Tuberville noted. "Montez Billings (hamstring) was back, Tray Blackmon (ankle) went through about three-quarters of the practice, Aairon Savage (ankle) maybe a little more than three-quarters.

"Zach Kutch is kicking right now," Tuberville continued. "Wesley (Byrum, kicking foot) is warming up and we'll have to wait and see (if he can play). That's going to be a game deal--game situation. If we were playing today Zach would probably get the nod, but we've got three days left and he's come a long way.... Neil Caudle (throwing shoulder) is doing good and throwing well. He's working a lot with the twos."

Leon Hart (ankle) is also running closer to full speed and could be available against South Florida.

The Tigers finish preparations for the Bulls on Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday's game will be televised on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. CDT.

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