Tigers Finish Campus Preparations For Ole Miss

The Auburn football team practiced under the lights on Thursday in its final workout before leaving town for a road trip to play the Ole Miss Rebels.

Auburn, Ala.--Preparing for Saturday's road game in Oxford, Miss., against the Ole Miss Rebels, offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino and defensive coordinator Gene Chizik put the Tigers through a final on the field tuneup during a 90-minute on-campus workout on Thursday.

Head coach Tommy Tuberville said it was a good, crisp practice session in shorts and shoulder pads and ended what he called a solid week of workouts. The coached noted that players who were bothered by a respiratory ailment earlier in the week will be ready to go for Saturday's game.

Auburn, 3-2 in the league, faces another must-win situation on Saturday in its quest to win the SEC West title. Last week the Tigers responded with a 31-7 home victory over LSU. Ole Miss, which has won six consecutive home games, is in a similar situation in the SEC race and can not afford another loss at 2-2 in the league. LSU, which has the week off, leads the division with a 3-1 mark.

Tre Smith is averaging 6.6 yards per carry.

One of the points of emphasis this week in practice has been getting a third tailback ready to play with Carnell Williams out for the season and Chris Butler unable to play this week with a groin pull. Tuberville says that tailback/fullback Victor Horn will be the No. 3 guy this week behind starter Ronnie Brown and backup Tre Smith, the true freshman who put on a good show in his first extended prime-time action last week in Auburn's 31-7 rout of LSU.

Smith says that his biggest adjustment to college football is adapting to the speed of the game. "It is so much different than in high school," he says. "The blocking assignments are also much different than in high school. I have to take on linebackers blitzing through the holes. We hardly ever passed in high school and I didn't have to do any pass blocking."

Horn says that learning assignments and getting back into game shape have been his focus this week after just being cleared to go full speed last week after suffering a high ankle sprain in preseason practice. That ruined the first half of his redshirt sophomore season after being named the most improved offensive skill player in spring drills while splitting time between fullback and tailback.

Victor Horn

In addition to not having tailback Butler for this week's game, defensive tackle Spencer Johnson, who has missed the past two games with an ankle injury, is questionable for the Ole Miss game. Starting offensive tackle Taylor Bourgeois is also out and won't be back this season after undergoing shoulder surgery. True freshman Marcus McNeill is expected to start at tight tackle this week although Monreko Crittenden could also see action at the position, too, moving outside from his guard spot. When Crittenden plays guard, true freshman Troy Reddick fills in at Crittenden's guard spot.

Kickoff for Saturday's game is 11:30 a.m. and it will be telecast regionally by Jefferson-Pilot as Auburn goes for its ninth victory in the past 11 meetings with the Rebels.

Auburn's offense will try to control the football and keep Ole Miss star Eli Manning watching the action from the sidelines as much as possible. Chizik says it is essential that the Tigers mount a consistent pass rush, even if the Tigers can't consistently get to the 6-4, 215-pounder who has been good at avoiding sacks with his quick release. Ole Miss leads the SEC in fewest sacks allowed at seven. In what should be an interesting matchup vs. the Auburn secondary, Manning will face an AU team that has given up fewer touchdown passes (four) than any SEC team while leading the league in interceptions (15).

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