Wednesday AU Bowl Practice: News and Notes

News, notes and quotes from Coach Tommy Tuberville and Auburn players are featured.

Atlanta, Ga.--The Auburn Tigers put on the full pads for contact work on Wednesday as they returned to football practice after their break for the Christmas.

Coach Tommy Tuberville said he liked what he saw at the two-hour workout at Rose Bowl Field on the campus of Georgia Tech. Auburn's Chick-fil-A Bowl opponent, the Clemson Tigers, also resumed practice with a workout at the Georgia Dome, the site of the New Year's Eve matchup between the SEC and ACC teams.

"We are planning on having a lot of fun and getting a lot of practice in," said tight end Gabe McKenzie, who noted the Tigers got off to a bit of a slow start in practice on Wednesday, but picked up the tempo as the workout progressed."

Defensive starter, Tray Blackmon, agreed with McKenzie that the Tigers had a good workout after a bit of a slow start. "It was great getting back out there on the field with my teammates, my brothers," the linebacker said. "We had a good practice and are excited about playing the bowl game. We know Clemson is a good team and will be coming into the game expecting to win."

Tray Blackmon said the Tigers are having a good time in Atlanta and are looking forward to the game vs. Clemson.

The game will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. CST on Monday night with TV coverage on ESPN. The game is a sellout and tickets are difficult to find.

"We had a good practice," said Tuberville, who noted it looked like the players were having a good time. "It started out a little chilly, but got up close to 60. It was a good opportunity to go outside instead of having to go back into the dome. We are going to have enough practices in the dome. It gets a little hot in there. We don't want our guys to be in their too much. The last time we came here we spend the whole weekend in there (the Georgia Dome) I thought we were a little bit tired at the end of the week."

The Tigers, who are also doing weight workouts at their team hotel (The Hilton) as well as meeting with their position coaches, gave more hints on what their offense will look like for the bowl game.

"We worked on all of the game plan," said Tuberville, who noted that Brandon Cox is sharing reps at quarterback with Kodi Burns, Blake Field and Neil Caudle. "We got most of it in and worked on it at home last week. We picked up where we left off. We had a little extra step today after having four or five days off. It was good to get everybody back together."

Defensive linemen Jake Ricks (91) and Mike Blanc (92) work against the backup offensive line featuring Antwoin Daniels (70) and Mike Berry (66) on Wednesday at Georgia Tech.

The Tigers, who are scheduled to practice at several different locations in Atlanta, got physical at Georgia Tech, Tuberville said. "We had three-on-three inside drills and we knocked them around. We will do it tomorrow and we will start pulling back on Friday. We will go in full pads again on (Thursday). Then we will go in shells and pull back--try to get their legs back."

One player not on the practice field was freshman linebacker Bo Harris, who will be unavailable for action after having surgery to correct a problem with his shoulder that has been slipping out of joint throughout the season. "The doctors felt like with an extra month of rehab he will be ready for two-a-days (in August)," Tuberville said.

Senior offensive tackle King Dunlap is "doubtful" for the bowl game due to an ankle problem, Tuberville noted. Dunlap is a backup to freshman Ryan Pugh. However, the coach said there is a chance Dunlap could get ready for some limited action for the game on Monday evening.

Another offensive lineman who missed practice time prior to Christmas, Chaz Ramsey, has been cleared for action and is scheduled to start at guard.

The Tigers were out on the town Wednesday evening at Taste of Brazil for South American style steaks. Pictured left to right facing the camera are linebacker Craig Stevens, wide receiver Terrell Zachery, offensive guard Byron Isom and safety Mike McNeil.

Bowl notes: A variety of Auburn players mentioned Tuesday that they expect new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin to call plays vs. Clemson. Tuberville said that Franklin and another offensive coach, Steve Ensminger, will share those duties. "We are just going to have a mixture of all of it," Tuberville said of Franklin's spread offensive formation plays and the West Coast Offense that the Tigers ran for 12 games. "We need to run some of our old offense just to have some carryover," Tuberville added...Because so many freshman are in the playing rotation, the Tigers aren't going to have a bowl practice scrimmage featuring redshirts and others who seldom play, something they have done in previous bowl games. "It helped us win some games this year," Tuberville said of the the true freshman class.

Tuberville said the odds of Auburn's West Virginia game being moved from the start of the season to later in the season "are very good." The coach said, "ESPN is doing that," he said. "They are working on it. They are looking at an opportunity to move it back to midseason, which we would be for because we will be breaking in a new quarterback. When you do that, other people have to juggle theirs (schedules). We let them (ESPN) handle that. We have agreed to play them on a Thursday night in midseason."...Tuberville had praise for junior defensive tackle Pat Sims, who projects as a high NFL draft pick for the 2009 draft. On Tuesday, Sims confirmed what Tuberville had said earlier this month that the junior plans to return for his senior season with the Tigers. "He has worked hard," Tuberville said. "He is one of those who really doesn't know his limits. He has got a lot of potential for growth and I think he will do that."

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