"We had a good hard practice today," the coach said after the two-hour workout. "It was much better than yesterday. We looked more focused and we are going to need to be. We are in for a battle come Saturday at 11:30 a.m. We need to be much improved.
"We are trying to do that every day, working on all of the fundamentals," Tuberville added. "We are trying to take this thing slow. Hopefully, we can get a few guys back. We are still a little beat up. Most of the same guys are a little bit hurt, but hopefully we get most of them back."
One starter that Tuberville said could be back from a shoulder injury is junior linebacker Merrill Johnson. "He is probably about 85 or 90 percent. He has practiced well."
Tuberville said that senior defensive end Quentin Groves will be getting some new shoes and he will start running on Thursday as he tries to recover from three dislocated toes suffered in the 20-17 victory over Florida last Saturday. "I hoped to get back him this week, but I don't think there is a chance for that," said Tuberville, who added, "but you never know. You don't know how long those things take."
The Auburn coach added, "I think by next week it is just going to be sore and he is just going to have to work through it. It is not as bad as a sprained ankle. It is something that we have all had jammed fingers getting hit with a basketball or a football. You know how those things hurt. Well, he's basically has real sore toes. There is no structural problem. They will obviously be padded up. Once he gets some of the soreness out I think he will be fine." ,p. Tuberville said that junior tailback Brad Lester, who will make his 2007 debut this week, is "looking good" in practice. "He is fired up as you would think," Tuberville said. "He has been fired up all year about playing. Hopefully, we can get him off to a good start." Lester missed the first five games with a suspension due to academic issues.
Commenting on the Wednesday practice that was held on a damp evening with some light mist, Tuberville said, "We did mostly scout team stuff and spent a lot of time on the kicking game." Tuberville also noted the Tigers also worked on short yardage and long yardage situations.
The Tigers will take on Vanderbilt this Saturday. Both teams are 1-1 in SEC play. Vandy is 3-1 overall while the Tigers are 3-2.
Auburn is looking for a third straight win after knocking off a Florida team that was ranked third and fourth in the major polls. However, Tuberville continued his theme from earlier in the week that the Tigers need to perform better than they did against the Gators.
"Saturday night was a game where we didn't play great," he said. "We played pretty good, but we played consistent. We made a few mistakes, but not a lot. That is something that we had not done in the first month. We had not had any consistency. I think that is what it takes on the road or to beat any team, especially teams that are real good you have to be consistent for four quarters."
In other news:
*Tuberville took a shot at some football analysts on Wednesday at the weekly SEC football coaches teleconference. A question asked to Tuberville and other league coaches was how could they explain so many upsets in college football this year, particularly by teams that were double-digit underdogs like Auburn was before beating Florida last week.
Auburn's coach didn't take long to come up with his answer. "I think the people who are looking at it don't know what the heck they are talking about when they are picking teams to win by 10 points or 20 points. Somebody said we were a three-touchdown underdog. They hadn't looked at our background. We have got a pretty good football team. We just needed to play a little more consistent."
*Vandy has pulled off several upset road wins in recent seasons, knocking off Arkansas 28-24 in Fayetteville and Tennessee 28-24 in Knoxville in 2005 before beating Georgia in Athens 24-22 last season. Vandy is 5-6 in road games since the start of the 2005 season.
*Quarterback Chris Nickson comes into the game with 3,692 yards, which is seventh in Vanderbilt history in total offense. Nickson, who is from Pike County High School, was named Mr. Football in Alabama for 2003.
*Tuberville said that backup offensive tackle King Dunlap and backup guard and tackle Antwoin Daniels have both had a good week of practice. He said it is probably the best week in two years for Dunlap, who is still running behind true freshman Ryan Pugh at left tackle. Offensive line coach Hugh Nall is not expected to make any changes in his starting lineup despite Tuberville saying on Tuesday that was a possibility. "He wants to be a part," Tuberville said of Dunlap, who didn't make the trip to Florida last week. "It hurts to be sitting on that bench."