Coach Likes Tuesday's Practice

A report on Auburn's Tuesday football practice is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Quarterback Kodi Burns got in a significant amount of snaps as the Tigers returned to the practice field for a shorter and lighter than usual Tuesday session that earned a thumbs up review from head football coach Tommy Tuberville.

Brandon Cox, Auburn's starting QB, is scheduled to start vs. Division I-AA Tennessee Tech. However, Burns, a true freshman who has started one game this year, is likely to see significant playing time if the heavily favored Tigers build an early lead vs. the 4-5 Golden Eagles.

Junior quarterback Blake Field, who has yet to see game action as a quarterback this season, is third in line to get snaps at quarterback as the Tigers prepare for their Homecoming game that will kick off at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

"We had a good practice," Tuberville said. "Guys came out energetic. We had a lot of spirit. It was a little cool. We cut practice back. Starting last week we started cutting the time of practice a little bit to get on and off the field and try to get to the month of November with a little bit left in terms of mental and physical abilities--trying to hold a little bit back.

"This week we are still going to push them through it," Tuberville added as the Tigers prepare for their 10th straight game without an off-week. "We are working on fundamentals and techniques."

Auburn, which is 6-3, hasn't lost a Homecoming game since 1991 and is heavily favored to continue that trend in its first-ever football game vs. Tennessee Tech.

"What we are trying to do this week is look at as many players as we can in practice," Tuberville said. "We are not taking this game for granted whatsoever. We want to get better. Each week to try to play against ourselves and we are looking for hard work in practice and trying to get better in all of the little things.

"We have got a lot of room for improvement," the coach added. "There is no way in the world we think that we are good enough to beat anybody by just showing up. Our coaches have done a good job of motivating players. That is what we have done this week. We have pushed them hard."

Auburn players said the practice was an enthusiastic one and Tuberville agreed, noting there were several scuffles between offensive and defensive players. The most intense one was when junior wide receiver James Swinton battled freshman cornerback Ryan Williams. Both are reserves who are likely to see their most significant playing time this week.

Tuberville said it was a fun and competitive practice. "When competition starts, tempers start to flare. It kind of reminded of two-a-days a little bit. It's good. We are getting close to the end of the season. We need to see guys having fun and competing and challenging each other, and there were a few challenges today."

Senior defensive lineman Josh Thompson said that it is obvious many of the reserves are excited about the opportunity to see extended action this week. "Yes, they are telling the starters we need to take care of business early so they can get on the field," the noseguard said with a grin.

In other practice news:

*Starting strongside linebacker Craig Stevens will miss the Tech game with an ankle injury. Tuberville said he didn't know if the Tigers will start Merrill Johnson, Courtney Harden or Quentin Groves at the spot. Groves, who has played linebacker in the 3-4 alignments in addition to his defensive end duties, spent Tuesday's session practicing at strongside linebacker in the 4-3.

*Freshman offensive tackle and center Ryan Pugh was held out of practice resting his injured ankle and is questionable for Saturday's game. He was in for eight snaps last week vs. Ole Miss.

*Tailback Brad Lester, who tweaked a groin muscle in the first half of the victory over Ole Miss, was rested in Tuesday's practice, but is scheduled to be back as the first team tailback on Wednesday.

*Another tailback, junior Tristan Davis, is running to get back into shape in hopes of returning for the Georgia game. Davis, who broke bones in foot twice this year, will not play this week, the head coach said.

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