Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers (7-3, 4-2) put the finishing touches on the game plan for Saturday's game against the Georgia Bulldogs (6-2, 4-2) with an hour and a half practice Thursday morning. Coach Tommy Tuberville says after a good week of practice it was nice to finish strong with another good workout.
"We finished up on a positive note," Tuberville says. "We've got a lot of guys that are ready to play this game. They look forward to it. We worked on the kicking game, a little extra time on that, all of our situations on offense and defense."
Struggling with kickoff coverage for much of the season, the Tigers welcome back freshman kicker Wes Byrum to that part of the game this week. While he has been kicking field goals and extra points despite a sore leg, Byrum's presence on kickoffs should be a boost to Auburn's coverage teams this week.
"He has done good," Tuberville says of Byrum. "We just kicked our last field goals with him. He was 3-3 and that's good. It's good to have him back."
Byrum's addition on kickoff coverage isn't the only different face fans may see this week as Tuberville notes they've made quite a few changes on the coverage teams this week to incorporate some of their better players. He says the additions will be pretty noticeable for people familiar with Auburn's team.
"We've made a lot of changes," Tuberville says. "It will be pretty prevalent once you see them, those that have watched. I can't give you names and all that."
On the injury front the Tigers are a pretty healthy team with only redshirt freshman linebacker Craig Stevens definitely out for this week's game. Without him Auburn will use senior Quentin Groves as the starting strong side linebacker with Courtney Harden and Bo Harris as reserves. Tuberville also adds they could move some other players around if needed.
One player that was hoping to make it back for this week's game is Georgia native Tristan Davis. Out for the second time this year with a foot injury, this time having a pin inserted to repair a broken bone suffered against Florida. Tuberville says Davis is back and will make the trip, but that's about all he'll do this week.
"He (Davis) is going," Tuberville says. "He'll dress out and run around, but he hasn't done much."
For the Tigers this is a game that the players have been focusing on all week. One year removed from a thumping at the hands of the Bulldogs, tight end Gabe McKenzie says this game is a chance for a little payback.
"This is the oldest rivalry in the South," McKenzie says. "Georgia is a good team. We just have to think about last year. They stopped us from maybe going to the national championship. We owe them. We're going to go there and play hard."
One of the reasons Auburn has played well over the years in Athens is the presence of several Georgia natives on the Tigers' roster each season. This year is no different as players such as Cole Bennett, Josh Thompson and Brad Lester are just a few of the key players from Georgia going home to play this week. McKenzie says that makes the intensity level rise even more when coupled with what happened last season.
"Last year they weren't a really good team," McKenzie says. "They had lost a few games, but they came in and beat us at home. They just didn't beat us, they beat us worse than Arkansas did and Arkansas was good. The Georgia boys said when they went home everyone asked them how we lost to Georgia. We've got a bunch of Georgia boys on the team so they took it personal."
The kickoff for Saturday's game in Sanford Stadium is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. central time and can be seen nationally on CBS. Four of the last seven meetings between the two schools have been decided in the closing seconds with Auburn winning six of the last seven overall at Georgia.