Auburn, Ala.--Forced indoors because of powerful thunderstorms in the Auburn area Tuesday morning, the Auburn Tigers split time with both the offense and defense practicing indoors for just over two hours. Coach Tommy Tuberville says despite the cramped conditions it was a good day for his team.
"Practice today was just shorts and helmets," Tuberville says. "There's not much we can do. The offense had a good practice early. They went through all their passing game and all their routes. They did a pretty good job on that. Other than that not a lot went on today."
Offensively the story was the passing game, but the running game also got a good bit of mental work in and even a little extra time on the field by Coach Eddie Gran. With sophomore Benjamin Tate back at practice the Tigers worked into the defensive segment of practice behind the locker room staging area inside the indoor facility.
Running backs Brad Lester and Ben Tate focus on Coach Eddie Gran during a walk-through on a carpeted area behind the temporary locker room staging area.
Defensively the issue was mental focus for new coordinator Paul Rhoads. Forced to work on alignment and assignment duties, he says that it was a good test for his defensive unit to see how much they can pay attention to details.
"Today is a test," Rhoads says. "It's a test of how mentally tough of a football team you have. You throw the schedule way off and they let it take away from their concentration and focus then you get nothing done and you've wasted a day. This is a test for that first Saturday game and it's raining outside and it wasn't supposed to be. This is a test for that first Saturday game when they burn the French toast at the pregame meal. Are they going to let that affect the way they play that afternoon?
"I thought they responded very well. They maintained their concentration whether we were in meetings or walk-through or individual. I think that's the number one thing you get out of a day like this. Without the pads you're installing and you're moving, but you're not playing pure football yet. The fact that we got teaching done and installing done, this was a very effective day two."
The one big change in the spring is the move of Aairon Savage to cornerback. After playing safety his first two seasons, Savage is now at corner and Tuberville says the move is a good one for both he and the team.
"We needed to do that because, with his size, he stayed beat up," Tuberville says. "He's a real physical kid. He's not going to back down from anybody. Mario (Mario Fannin) ran over him a couple of times. His body doesn't, when we move guys up to linebacker from the safety position, take the punishment. We'll still play him some at corner, but we want to get a full season out of him."
Andy Lutz(Assistant to the head coach), Tommy Tuberville and Director of Football Operations Jimmy Perry look at the flooded practice field Tuesday morning.
With the weather an issue it forced the Tigers indoors, something that has always been a problem because of limited space. This spring it's even a bigger issue because of work being done on the locker rooms. That means roughly half of the indoor facility is being used for temporary locker rooms and training rooms. Tuberville says Tuesday only pushes the need for a new facility even more in his mind.
"Today we had to modify our second practice," Tuberville says. "We had to split time and go indoors because of rain showers and thunder and lightning. Half of our indoor is taken over by locker rooms in here and our training room in here. We've got to start action on a full size indoor (practice facility). We just miss too much time that is available to us by not having something. Hopefully in the future we'll have something in the mix in terms of a full length indoor. That's our next project.
"I don't know," Tuberville adds on when it will be. "We've got the perfect area across the ditch behind the practice fields, the old track. Hopefully we can convince somebody to let us use that and put a full length one there. We want to keep this one for baseball and other teams."
With 29 days in the spring to get in 15 practice dates, with the clock starting on the day of a team's first practice, the Tigers are up against time constraints for practice dates because of class conflicts on Mondays and Wednesdays. Tuberville says that made it imperative to practice despite the complications.
"We only have so many days," Tuberville says. "We can't practice on Mondays and Wednesdays because of too many classes. The only times we have are Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. We would run out of days. If we were in full pads we wouldn't have come in. We didn't want to waste of one of those."
On the injury front the Tigers have two players scheduled for surgery according to Tuberville and both will miss the remainder of spring practice. Sophomore defensive tackle Darrell Roseman will have to get a rod placed in his leg to try to help heal a stress fracture problem that has bothered him since arriving at Auburn. Walk-on offensive lineman Rudy Odom injured a knee on Sunday and will have surgery as well.
The Tigers will return to the practice field Thursday morning for the third practice of the spring. Tuberville says while he would like to get a more physical day in at the moment he's not sure if they'll be in full pads or not for the third practice. "We're going to wait and see (if they'll go in full pads), it will at least be in shoulder pads," he says. "We'll do one or the other, but we'll start contact Thursday morning at 7 o'clock rain permitting."