"We had a good week of practice and got a lot done," said freshman tight end Vance Smith. "We need a couple of days off to get rested."
Senior wide receiver Rod Smith and senior offensive lineman Jason Bosley agreed with the freshman that the Tigers need some time off. Smith noted that the time off will help a number of injured Tigers get closer to full speed.
Head coach Tommy Tuberville said while the three days of practice were important, especially for the offense, time off is more important right now. He said the Tigers "definitely need" rest both mentally and physically before getting ready to play another opponent.
"We probably hit the wall today, but that was our intention to push them to the limit to see how much they could handle," Tuberville said. "They need some rest, need to get away from the coaches. The players need to get away from each other and kind of relax, get football off their minds, come back on Sunday at 1:30 and be full speed."
The Tigers practiced on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week. Commenting on Thursday's session, Tuberville said, "It was a good practice, a hot practice. I thought we had their attention real good until about after 75 or 80 percent of it. It kind of went downhill. It was probably as hot as it has been the last few weeks.
"The last three days have been good," he added. "Attention has been good. Everybody has been working hard. We had a lot of good work against each other. Probably 60 or 70 percent of our practice was going against each other--ones and ones, twos and twos--blitz drills and all of those kind of things, trying to put pressure on a lot of different guys to see what they can do, to see if they can get better. A lot of tackling drills, blocking drills, everything to do to try to up everybody's level of competition."
Tuberville and interim offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger both had praise for Neil Caudle and Barrett Trotter, who are battling for the No. 2 quarterback job behind Kodi Burns. Both coaches said no decision has been made on who will be the backup QB next week. They said that decision will be made at an offensive staff meeting over the weekend after the coaches get back from two days of recruiting road trips.
Wide receiver Smith noted both sophomore Neil Caudle and true freshman Trotter threw the ball well in practice.
Tuberville flew to Maryland after practice to go check out quarterback verbal commitment Raymond Cotton. All of the AU coaches, except Ensminger and defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads, will be watching recruits on Thursday and Friday.
With the Tigers struggling at 4-3 several verbal commitments are reconsidering their decisions. "They all do this time of the year," Tuberville said. "When you get this many commitments you are going to have guys...everybody is still being recruited. We are still recruiting a lot of guys trying to get them to change their mind. That is what happens this time of year."
Tuberville is allowing players to go home for the weekend except the ones who need treatment like Ben Tate, the junior tailback who missed a second straight practice as he battles a hamstring problem. The injured Tigers will be required to visit the training room 10 times between now and Sunday's practice.
Commenting on the entire week, Tuberville said the Tigers had good intensity. "They know they have got to get better," he said. "We are not playing very well, obviously. We have just got to pick up every phase of what we are doing. Everybody has got to pick it up individually. We have got to bring it together as a team. They want to win. They want to get better. They want to play more consistent and that has been our whole focus all week."