Tuberville Pleased As Tigers Wrap For MSU

Coach Tommy Tuberville and freshman defensive back D'Antoine Hood talk about this week's game at Mississippi State.

Auburn, Ala.--The first road trip is always a different feel for a football team and for the Auburn Tigers it is no different. With a new starting quarterback in Chris Todd and still a relatively young team, coach Tommy Tuberville said he thinks his team will be just fine heading to Starkville to face Mississippi State.

"Chris is a little older and Kodi (Kodi Burns) has also been there," Tuberville said. "It won't be that much of a problem. You worry a little bit about crowd noise and the first nationally televised game, things like that. They understand it's just two teams playing and you've got to go out and execute. A lot depends on how the quarterback plays."

Working on polishing up the gameplan this week in practice, Tuberville said his team had a good four days of work heading into Saturday's game. Many years time would be spent in practice working on ways to execute offensively while dealing with the noise of a stadium, but Tuberville said this season that shouldn't be much of a problem.

"Communication isn't nearly as much of a factor as what our old offense was," Tuberville said. "It would have to be a direct communication from the quarterback to the offensive line. This is more just recognition from the sideline. If you can see you can get the signal here. There's not a lot of vocal stuff. That won't be a problem anywhere we go."

One of the things Tuberville has talked about since spring practice is leadership. With the core of the team still juniors and sophomores, the need for someone to step up has been paramount. This week Tuberville said Todd has continued to be one of those guys and he's sensed it out of both he and Burns in different ways.

"Chris is probably the most vocal guy we've had since before Jason (Jason Campbell)," Tuberville said. "Jason didn't say a whole lot. Brandon (Brandon Cox) didn't say a whole lot. Kodi's a lot like those two. Chris, since he's been here, has tried to be a good vocal leader but he's learning as he goes too.

"It has been a learning experience but I like his attitude," he added. "I like Kodi's attitude. I think they've approached this week very well."

Practicing for just under two hours the Tigers concentrated on polishing up things on both sides of the ball. Tuberville said that's something they've been working on since coming out of Saturday's game against Southern Miss.

"We had an excellent week of practice," Tuberville said. "We're getting ready to go into our first conference game. We did a lot of evaluating and looking at what we need to do on offense and defense. We dropped a few things and added a few things to try to make us better. We'll do that all year long."

Tuberville said the health of the team is very good right now with everyone that has been questionable this week expected to play with the exception of John Douglas. That means James Swinton should be back at wide receiver after Montez Billings' return last week.

This weekend when the Tigers take the trip to Starkville several freshmen will make the trip and could have a very big part in Auburn's plans on defense. Back up cornerbacks D'Antoine Hood and Neiko Thorpe are just one play away from becoming starters on defense and Hood said while he's still got plenty of room to grow, getting some experience already this season been big for him.

"Through a couple of games things are going good," Hood said. "I've had the chance to get my feet wet. In the first game I got to play the whole second half and get a feel for things. I learned to ignore the crowd and saw how fast the tempo was.

"That was real big for me," he added. "I also understand it wasn't a SEC type of team. I still think I've got a lot of work to do. The real test is when I get in a SEC game. Those teams will be a lot faster than ULM."

This weekend Hood and the Tigers will face a tough Mississippi State team featuring a strong running game and improved passing attack. Starting cornerback Jerraud Powers will likely be on the field for much of the game in front of Hood on Saturday and the Phenix City native said when that's the case he learns just as much as he does when he's on the field.

"It's nice because he's technique-sound," Hood said. "His technique is excellent. If he does slip up he catches it quick. Watching him gives me a better picture of how things are supposed to get done and what to do in every situation."

Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 6 p.m. and can be seen nationally on ESPN2.

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