Presidential Visit Makes For Eventful Practice

George Bush was in the neighborhood as Auburn put the finishing touches on the game plan for Saturday's home contest vs. ninth-ranked LSU>

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn wrapped up on-the-field preparations on Thursday for what Tiger coaches and players are expecting to be a physical SEC football game as LSU visits Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday. The Tigers practiced on a day when the president of the United States was drawing cheers that could be heard on the AU practice field along with the sounds of the AU band.

One of Auburn's most physical players, sophomore strong safety Junior Rosegreen, says he is expecting a tough test from LSU. "Oh yeah, this game here is going to be real physical. I think this game is going to be a 15-rounder, too, being that they have got a lot to lose and we have got a lot to lose.

One of the presidential party helicopters is shown from the football practice field as it hovers across the street over the soccer complex.

"Even though we have lost three games, and they have only lost one, we are still trying to get to the SEC championship. Both of us are going to come in ready to play, and we have just got to do all of the right things and stay focused."

Rosegreen and the Tigers practiced for one hour and 45 minutes while a few long passes away across the street at Plainsman Park a crowd estimated at around 20,000 watched George Bush give a political speech for state Republican candidates.

Tiger football players were still loosening up before the formal part of practice started when helicopters began flying over their practice field scouting the area for any potential trouble. Then, around 4:20 p.m., three helicopters flew in at just over tree-top level and hovered above the women's soccer complex where the Tiger players could see the president's party. The helicopters then landed on the intramural fields and the entourage of Secret Service agents and others who accompany a president formed a motorcade that drove past the practice fields on Samford Avenue on the way to beautiful Plainsman Park.

Auburn football players watch the arrival of the president of the United States, George Bush, as they watch his group of helicopters prepare to land.

"We had a few distractions with helicopters flying over, but I thought our guys concentrated pretty good and had a good day and are ready to play," said head coach Tommy Tuberville. Tuberville said the traffic on campus and the array of security around the athletic complex caused several players to be late for team meetings. "It was a pretty spirited practice because of all the commotion around the field. We got to see him (Bush) through the window of his car because he went by the practice field. I think it added a lot of excitement to the day."

Many athletic department personnel took the chance to take the afternoon off and see the first speech by a sitting president at Auburn University since Franklin Roosevelt visited in 1939. Some waited in line for more than two hours to get into Plainsman Park and many who tried to get into the baseball park were denied entry because of a fear of overcrowding.

Jason Campbell does a passing drill at Thursday's workout. Tommy Tuberville said Campbell and Daniel Cobb had a good week of practice.

LSU comes into Saturday's game as one of the SEC's hottest teams at 3-0 in conference play and 6-1 overall with the only loss on the road at unbeaten Virginia Tech. "They are balanced," Rosegreen notes. He says that LSU has good receivers and a dangerous running back in Domanick Davis and adds that the Auburn defense will have to be aware of the scrambling ability of quarterback Marcus Randall, who is filling in for injured starter Matt Mauck.

Kickoff is set for 11:30 a.m and the game is being regionally televised by Jefferson-Pilot. Despite the morning start, Rosegreen says he expects the Tigers will get an assist from the crowd. "It's going to be a hostile crowd when they come here because I know fans remember how their fans treated us. LSU, they are a real good team. We are going to have to play our best game to win this game."

Rosegreen says the players, too, remember what happened in Baton Rouge last Dec. 1st when they lost 27-14 in a game that enabled LSU to tie Auburn at 5-3 in the SEC West. Because LSU won the head-to-head matchup, Coach Nick Saban's team represented the SEC West at the SEC Championship Game a week later where it upset Tennessee to take the league title.

"It was real hostile down there," Rosegreen remembers. "You know, they were drunk, and they were cursing, and, you know how that is." Rosegreen says the most troubling thing he witnessed was an LSU fan attacking former Tiger Walk director Tommy Williams, who took a blow to head from a football and was knocked to the ground during the Tiger Walk. Williams, who said he was physically hurt by the blow and mentally shaken, was undergoing treatment for a brain tumor at the time. Williams said after the incident that he couldn't imagine what would cause anyone to behave that way. He died last January after a long bout with the disease. "When they hit Tommy...God bless him," Rosegreen says.

Auburn safety says there are plenty of other reasons to get up for this game for his team that is 2-2 in the SEC and in a must-win situation to stay in the race for the divisional title. "They are ranked ninth in the country so if that doesn't get you excited then you don't need to play this game. They are ranked high and they are at their best right now so being that we come in and play our best game, I think we'll have a chance against them."

Rosegreen notes that Auburn's coaches have pointed out that LSU rallied to win the SEC title last year with three conference losses. "That is all our coach talks about. We rally around each other and tell them to look at how LSU did it last year so if they did it, we can do it. We are just going to stay focused and keep fighting."


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