Tigers Readying For SEC Road Opener

Auburn's Tommy Tuberville and Sen'Derrick Marks talks about preparing for Mississippi State and a position move

Auburn, Ala.--Continuing preparation for the Mississippi State Bulldogs this weekend, the Auburn Tigers (2-0) practiced for nearly two hours in shorts and shoulder pads. Coach Tommy Tuberville said his team has responded well this week and he likes the look of the guys as they gear up for SEC play.

"It was a good practice today, probably one of the better ones we've had," Tuberville said. "There was a lot of excitement. Guys are fired up about playing in the SEC. It has been a long time since we played a SEC game and we've got a lot of young guys looking forward to it.

"It's the first time this season we'll be seen nationally on television," he added. "It would be a great time to come out of the chute. I'm sure Mississippi State is going to have something to say about that. We've got a good gameplan. We've worked real hard on all phases. We're trying to make sure we've got everything exactly the way we want it. We've looked at the first two games and taken things out we didn't think we were progressing on and we've added a few new wrinkles which we think will help."

While it won't pay dividends this weekend or likely even this season because of the learning curve involved, the Tigers made a move on Wednesday by moving redshirt freshman A.J. Greene from defense to offense. Tuberville said the move was one that just made sense.

"We moved A.J. to offensive line," Tuberville said. "We're just looking for a place to put him where we think he can excel. We've got a lot of young guys at defensive end. I think this is a position he can play for a long time. Coach (Hugh) Nall is looking at him at tackle and at guard. He's got real good feet."

On the injury front the Tigers appear to be as healthy as they've been all season with only John Douglas questionable among the injured players right now. Tuberville said senior James Swinton continues to practice well and should be ready to go this weekend.

James Swinton is looking to get back on the field this weekend against MSU.

An interesting note from Tuberville on Wednesday was an update of players that have had surgery this season. He said both Aairon Savage and Philip Pierre-Louis are progressing well after having knee surgery. He noted that Pierre-Louis had ACL damage with a little damage to the meniscus. He also noted that freshman safety Marcus Jemison is doing well after surgery to repair his leg and could be back by November. The biggest news came when talking about another true freshman that broke his foot playing basketball over the summer.

"T'Sharvan Bell is getting out on the field," Tuberville said. "He's running good. He's real close to going full speed. It could be next week because he's really working hard. I saw him out there running today. We'll put him straight at corner. You never know what is going to happen. We don't think we'll play him but you never know until you get out there and get going. He'll work with the corners and work everyday and work on his technique. You never know."

This season Auburn heads into the Mississippi State game at 2-0 after defeating Southern Miss 27-13 last week. Last year it was a different story as a tough overtime loss to South Florida the week before may have played into Auburn's loss to the Bulldogs the next week. Junior defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said no matter the cause the results were tough to take.

"It was real hard to take," Marks said. "Especially since we lost to somebody we weren't expected to lose to…we're going to try to change it around this year. We're going to come out hard and try to keep our raw D mentality that we've been doing the first two games."

Allowing just 13 points all season, Auburn's defense will face a different challenge this week against Mississippi State. A power running team led by big back Anthony Dixon, the Bulldogs can run over and through opponents if they get the momentum going. Marks said because of that the Tigers have to start strong and finish even stronger.

"It's SEC football, downhill and straight power," Marks said. "It's the lead and straight I-formation running the ball.

"We've got to come out tough," he added. "It's going to be rough, especially since last year they beat us at our home. We've got a favor to pay back to them."

Auburn will return to the practice field Thursday morning to put the finishing touches on the gameplan for this weekend. Kickoff for Saturday's game against Mississippi State is scheduled for 6 p.m. and can be seen nationally on ESPN2.

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