Tigers Turn The Corner Midway Through August

A report from Thursday afternoon's football practice is featured.

Auburn, Ala.—Thursday was watermelon-eating day for the Auburn players and coaches, signifying the end of practice on the intramural fields for August.

Auburn usually celebrates the end of two-a-days with watermelon, but the team will have one more two-a-day on Friday in preparation for the Saturday scrimmage. Thursday was however, the end of open practices as the rest will be closed at the football complex.

"One reason we come over here (to the intramural fields in August) is so people can come out," head coach Tommy Tuberville says. "Over there (at the complex) we just don't have enough room.

Tuberville adds, "This year hopefully we have a little bit of an advantage going into the season having two new coordinators and people not knowing what we're doing or whatever. We've been pretty basic to this point. Next week we'll divide up scout teams and start putting in game plans."

Thursday was perhaps the most leisurely of the practices through the first two weeks as the Tigers spent a good portion of the time working on punt coverage and punt return. Robert Dunn, Chris Slaughter and Philip Pierre-Louis got looks at returner while Ryan Shoemaker and Clinton Durst were the punters.

The second half of practice was divided between offense and defense as coordinator Tony Franklin and Paul Rhoads ran through schemes with their players.

"It was a good day today," Tuberville says. "It was a mental day. We spent a lot of time looking at film (before practice). We're starting to try to figure out what we're doing Saturday. It's a good day for players on the bubble in terms of getting in that first game or not getting in that first game, especially on special teams and being backups.

"Tomorrow (Friday) we'll come out here and have a real good practice in the morning then we'll have mostly kicking game and walk-throughs tomorrow afternoon and then the scrimmage Saturday morning," he adds.

Tuberville adds that the transition with two new coordinators has been smooth, and that's a credit to the players and the coordinators responding to each other.

"Communication is big thing," Tuberville explains. "Players don't know how to react sometimes to one coach in terms of getting hollered at or screamed at or grabbed or pushed or whatever. They don't know how to react to it and they don't know what their temperament is. These guys have been good. It's like they've been here since we started. Good communication skills are important for new coaches coming in, especially as good as we've been on defense. Paul's had his hands full, but he's handled it real well."

Just like Wednesday, several veteran players missed Thursday practices with the normal nicks and dings of August. For the most part, Auburn is having a healthy August compared to previous years, but one player was added to the injury list prior to Thursday practice.

"There were no new injuries other than (Bart) Eddins," Tuberville explains. "He sprained his shoulder. They don't know how serious it is. They just had ice on today, but they hadn't had a chance to have an MRI on it yet. They should be able to get it tomorrow. Other than that, I don't think there are any other new ones."

Tuberville was once again asked about the summer academics for his players and had nothing new to report. "We got some in," he says. "So far so good. It's been real good. What happens is that a lot of these professors get their grades done and they don't send them all in. They go on vacation or whatever. They just don't get posted. It's not that they don't turn them in, they just don't get posted. We can't call or anything like that, so we're at the mercy of information coming to us as it comes. It's no different than any other semester."

The Tigers will practice again at 8:15 a.m., but practice is closed.

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