Atlanta, Ga.--The Auburn Tigers continued preparations for the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve against Clemson with another long practice on Thursday that featured a large amount of time spent on the kicking game. Coach Tommy Tuberville says overall the workout was a good one for his team as they begin to focus in on the game just a few days away.
"Practice was very good," Tuberville says. "It was a good weather day again and we needed that. We'll go outside one more time at Georgia Tech on Saturday morning. Tomorrow we'll go into the dome to give the guys an opportunity to go in and see what it looks like to practice catching punts and kickoffs.
"Today was pretty much like yesterday," he adds. "We had a lot of contact. Everybody is still pretty healthy even though we are having a lot of contact. We're just brushing up on a few details, but when you're running two offenses it's kind of tough. We've spent a little bit more practice time the last seven or eight practices and it's working out pretty good for us…we started putting our gameplan in yesterday and all of it today. We'll brush up on it the next couple of days."
With new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin coming on board for the bowl practices things have been different for the offense as they've had to adjust to a new coach and a different offense in a matter of a few practices. Tuberville says so far things have gone well in the adjustment period between coach and players.
"The thing about Tony that I've noticed is he's very detailed and organized," Tuberville says. "He knows what procedure he wants to run his practices by. There are a lot of things in practice he's in control of. He works with the offensive line. Of course he's been coaching coaches as he's been going along too in terms of running a little bit of his offense.
"It's been fun to watch. I think he's getting a lot more comfortable and the players know him a little bit more and what to expect. They won't get the full brunt of it until we get to spring ball in late February, but I think everybody is understanding a little bit of what he's trying to put in."
Wide receiver Tim Hawthorne hauls in a pass during Thursday's practice.
Although the Tigers won't use their allotted practices for the bowl game, Tuberville says in his mind they're going to get plenty done in preparation for Monday's game. He adds that he would rather his team be fresh for the game than get another practice in just to say they went another day.
"You can only practice so much for a bowl game," Tuberville says. "You get bored and guys get tired of doing the same old things. That's the reason why we try not to go over 10 practices. We try to keep them as fresh as we can.
"The last time we were here we practiced in the dome every day and I felt like we were a little tired," he adds. "Our legs were tired at the end of that many days practicing on that hard turf for that many days in a row. It's good that we've been going that many days at Georgia Tech."
On the injury front Tuberville says the Tigers are pretty healthy with only King Dunlap missing practice because of an ankle injury. One player that returned to practice late in the season and has returned to form is running back Tristan Davis. Tuberville says he's looking good and will see some action against Clemson.
"He's playing running back and running back kicks," Tuberville says. "He's doing good. He should be back with Patrick Lee and Brad Lester (returning kickoffs). All three of them are working back there."
Another offensive player that has been banged up in recent weeks is Mario Fannin. Bothered by a groin injury late in the season that had him less than full speed, Fannin wasn't full speed in Thursday's practice due mostly to a blister on his ankle. He says that he expects to be just fine in time for the game on Monday though.
"I have a little blister on my ankle," Fannin says. "It's kind of aggravating right now, but I'll be all right. I just sat out some of practice today to let it come down a little bit. It was a little swollen. That was it mainly. It was just from the tape rubbing against it. I have a little blister and it's aggravating when I try to run. They are working on it now to get it down. Everything will be straight."