Tuberville Still Waiting on Word on Lester

The Auburn defense will face the challenge of slowing QB Chase Holbrook and the New Mexico State offense while the offense will be aiming for consistency against the Aggies.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn wrapped up practice on Thursday for Saturday night's home game vs. New Mexico State still awaiting word on the status of tailback Brad Lester.

Commenting on the suspended tailback, who has been out of action since Auburn's Cotton Bowl victory over Nebraska, Coach Tommy Tuberville said, "I haven't heard anything. I think we'll hear something here in the next, I don't know, 48 hours or so."

With Lester suspended due to an academic issue and Tristan Davis out with a broken bone in his foot, the Tigers have played without two of their big-play men on offense as they have gotten off to a disappointing 1-2 start.

Lester has practiced with the Tigers this week, but Tuberville said he is not sure if the tailback would play vs. New Mexico State this week if he is cleared prior to kickoff.

"I don't know whether that's a reality dealing with what we're dealing with," Tuberville said. "We would like to get a little closure on it to give him some idea of what he's doing. He has practiced. He could play this afternoon. I don't know whether that's going to happen or not."

Auburn finalized its game plan and preparations for New Mexico State (2-1) on a cool, sunny Thursday morning. The Tigers are looking to rebound from back-to-back losses. The offense getting on track with a two-quarterback system has been a major point of emphasis.

"It was a good week," Tuberville said of the preparation with Brandon Cox and Kodi Burns. "Everybody knows the situation now and knows the tempo of both quarterbacks. The thing is we're just trying to talk about being more consistent and have longer drives. Controlling the ball is a big week this week. If we don't control the ball and keep the defense off the field it could be a long day."

Playing against a 3-4 defense that focuses on not giving up the big play, it could be a good week for the Tigers to develop some consistency on long drives.

"They're a lot like us," Tuberville explained. "They're a three and five-man front. We've played against (defensive coordinator) Woody Widenhofer a lot. He's very fundamentally sound and they've got some good players. They run hard to the ball and they're well-coached. They're not going to make a lot of mental mistakes. They're not going to give you the big plays, so everything we get we're going to have to earn it."

Both head coach Hal Mumme, who runs the offense, and Widenhofer have ties to the SEC. Mumme was head coach at Kentucky from 1997-2000 and Widenhofer was head coach of Vanderbilt from 1997-2001.

Originally thought to be a cupcake before the trip to Florida on Sept. 29, after a sluggish start the Tigers won't have the luxury of resting several players who are beat up against the Aggies. Left tackle King Dunlap and linebacker Merrill Johnson are not expected to play, but some other players may return to their regular duties.

Ryan Shoemaker (dislocated elbow) may be ready to punt and Wes Byrum (ankle) could kick off.

"We'll decide on Saturday who will doing the punting," Tuberville said. "(Shoemaker) has done a good job this week, he'll have to wear a brace, but he's looked good. Wesley has looked good kicking off, but we're not going to make a decision until this weekend as to who's going to kick off. Other than that everything is about the same as it was last week injury-wise. The same guys will be playing."

The coaches and trainers have been hopeful to get Tray Blackmon out on the field for the first time since the Kansas State game, but if Thursday's practice is any indication that may be a long shot.

"One day is better than the next," Tuberville said of the middle linebacker. "He practiced a little yesterday and today he was sore and didn't do hardly anything. He'll be out this week. Hopefully, we can have some improvement in the next four of five days. We haven't had a lot of improvement out of him and he's working hard to get there. They've tried different tape jobs and different methods of treatment. It's just that he's got one sore and weak spot. It's not coming around."

Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 6 p.m. and it will be televised on pay-per-view.


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