Football Tigers Getting Healthier

After sitting out Tuesday's practice, several starters returned to work on Wednesday.

Auburn, Ala.--Good news abounded on the Plains Wednesday as a sunny and cool late afternoon greeted the Auburn Tigers. Practicing in full pads for just over two hours and finishing up under the lights, Coach Tommy Tuberville said his team was able to work on every facet of the game.

The Auburn coach also said the Tigers had several players back practicing after sitting out Tuesday with injuries, including center Ben Nowland, defensive tackle Spencer Johnson and defensive end Reggie Torbor.

"Practice was nice and cool and crisp," Tuberville said. "We needed to get outside because we had not had a real good full practice with the weather. The weather cooperated today. We went through all our game plan, not part of it like we normally do on Wednesdays. We went through it all full speed and did almost all of the kicking game except for field goals. We'll do those tomorrow (Thursday)."

Getting the game plan in for Saturday's homecoming game against Louisiana-Monroe was important, but the return of Nowland, Johnson and Torbor was perhaps the biggest news of the day. Expected to be questionable for the game, all three should be fine, Tuberville said.

"Everybody practiced except for Karlos Dansby (ankle)," Tuberville said. "He's just a little stiff. He could play, but we'll just wait and see how he works out. Everybody else was pretty much full speed. Ben Nowland had his hand bandaged up, but he did practice. Spencer practiced and did fine. Reggie Torbor is not full speed, but will be by Saturday. We didn't push him too much."

Defensive tackles Dante Booker and Tommy (T.J.) Jackson should receive plenty of playing time Saturday against the Indians.

Defensively, that is good news for a team that has been clawing and scratching on the defensive line to find enough healthy bodies to form a solid rotation. With Johnson and Torbor both expected to play along with an improved DeMarco McNeil and Jay Ratliff among the starting front four, the Tigers should be in good shape against the passing game of the Indians. While Auburn has some solid backups in Tommy Jackson, Wayne Dickens and Dante Booker, defensive end Mayo Sowell said you can definitely tell the difference when Johnson is in the ball game.

"He's another leader out there, somebody else to count on," Sowell said. "You feel comfortable with Spence in the middle. There wasn't too much going in there without him touching it. He played good.

"It was huge to get Spencer back. He's had a nagging ankle injury almost all year. It was great to get him back because he made a difference. I don't think he's 100 percent ye,t but he's good enough to make plays. He's kind of limping around on it, but it will be alright."

Despite chilly conditions on the practice field, Tuberville said he was impressed with the way the passing game looked Wednesday. Although he said you can't change the things you do on offense and the Tigers will still run the ball first, there will be more of an emphasis on the passing game this week than in weeks' past.

"The quarterbacks threw the ball well today," Tuberville noted. "I was impressed by how they threw it in the cool weather. It's a little bit different in cool weather, but it looked like they had a good day.

"We'll play a regular game and see how things work and try to work on everything we've been doing. Anytime you play a team your supposed to beat, if you go out and make a lot of changes then your execution is off. We're going to go out and play a full game just the way we would play any other game. We have a game plan we hope takes advantage of what they don't do very well."

Devin Aromashodu (1) and Ben Obomanu (2) talk strategy during a special teams session Wednesday. The duo make their debut as kickoff return men Saturday.

Tuberville said the Tigers spent a good amount of time on the kicking game and in particular the kickoff return team. With true freshmen Devin Aromashodu and Ben Obomanu back deep this weekend to give it their shots at making some big plays, Tuberville said he expects to see some improvement in that area as well as the punt return team with Tre Smith.

"We worked on kickoff return today," Tuberville said. "I think that might be exciting with those two guys back there. They have a lot of speed and they're used to carrying the football. That's what I was concerned about with Dee Durham back there. There wasn't anything he did, but I think these two guys might be our future back there. Now is the time to get them back there and see what they can do."

Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 1 p.m. and can be seen on a pay-per-view basis. The game is also Senior Day for the Tigers with 15 players to be honored before kickoff.

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories