Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers hit the practice field for the final time during the off week on Thursday morning with an hour and a half workout in shells as they get ready to face Alabama next weekend at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Sophomore defensive back Jerraud Powers says this week has been a good one for the team as they try to move on from the loss to Georgia last weekend.
"I think the energy has been pretty good," Powers says. "It has been up. There haven't been too many negative things said. We're practicing hard. I think everybody's spirits are high and everybody realizes what is at stake in this game. Everything has been pretty good."
Focusing on correcting mistakes and working on fundamentals the first two days this week, Coach Tommy Tuberville says that was again the point of emphasis for Thursday's practice. With a few off days to look forward to, he notes the players had a good day on the practice field.
"It was the same type of practice today that we had yesterday," Tuberville says. "It was a good practice. These guys need to get away and they are going to be away now until Sunday afternoon. Most of them have tests tomorrow so they'll still be here, but they've got Saturday and most of Sunday off. It was a good week of practice and we wrapped it up. We're trying to get a few people healthy. I think we're working towards that."
One of the problems this week is that the players and coaches know their biggest rival is just around the corner. With an off week in front of this game for the first time in a decade, Tuberville says it has made for a little different week for his team.
"You always look forward to this game every day," Tuberville says. "We wish we were playing it this week so both teams could have next week off for Thanksgiving, but unfortunately we're not doing that. We were for playing it this week, but we'll play it anywhere at any time."
Playing for 11 consecutive weeks without a break, Tuberville says despite the fact that his team is a little worn down this next game is one that it doesn't matter in. Still, he says it will probably do his team some good to have a weekend off.
"You don't need an open date for this game," Tuberville says. "We haven't had one. It's probably good for us to regroup everybody, but it's not going to make any difference in who wins and loses this game in terms of having an open date or not. Both teams are going to be ready to go."
One player that always seems to be ready to go against Alabama is senior defensive end Quentin Groves. With some of his better career games against the Crimson Tide, Groves obviously knows how to prepare for this game. He says so far he likes what he's seen out of the team as they get ready for the biggest game of the year.
"It has been pretty good," Groves says. "The guys have been focused. When you have an off week and a break guys tend to let down, but we didn't. We practiced with a great tempo each day this week and got better at some of the things we need to get better at.
"I think it's good for us to have a week off," he adds. "I think everybody knows what it's like to be cheerful and joyful again, because we were bouncing around outside."
The Tigers will take Friday and Saturday off before returning to practice on Sunday. The game time for the Iron Bowl next Saturday is scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN.
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Unlike most of his teammates, Powers says the one thing he knows he'll do this weekend is watch football. His Decatur High team is in the second round of the Class 5A Playoffs this weekend and they play at home against Benjamin Russell. That means a clash between Powers and senior safety Eric Brock. Powers says they've been going at each other a little bit in the last 24 hours and he can't wait to see his team get the victory.