Tigers Getting Healthier For Ole Miss

Auburn's Tommy Tuberville talks about the injuries to his team, progress in the kicking game and AU Athletic Director Jay Jacobs says he supports the Tiger coach.

Auburn, Ala.--Continuing to work on the gameplan for the Ole Miss Rebels, the Auburn Tigers practiced for just over two hours in shorts and shoulder pads Wednesday. Coach Tommy Tuberville said that right now his team is getting healthier and he hopes it continues heading into Saturday's contest.

"We had a lot of enthusiasm with the cooler weather," Tuberville said. "It has been a good week of practice. So far we've had three good practices with a lot of physical contact. Everybody was out practicing in some form of fashion, some a little more than others. Hopefully we can get a couple more guys back.

"We're getting a little bit better each week. We need them out there to get some consistency. The attitude is great. They are working hard and looking forward to Saturday."

Among the injured players are cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Neiko Thorpe. With both banged up it will likely mean more time for freshman D'Antoine Hood said Tuberville. Hood has been working on both sides in recent weeks and Tuberville said that will continue against the Rebels.

"They were out there running around," Tuberville said. "Neiko probably won't play. Jerraud has a good shot. Neiko is still real sore. He's probably a week away."

While possibly getting Powers back is good news, another injured player that could return this week is defensive end Antoine Carter. Out for almost a month because of a high ankle sprain, Tuberville said the sophomore should be back for Saturday's game.

"He's doing real good," Tuberville said. "It's good to have him back because it will take a little pressure off the rest of the guys."

Elsewhere on the defensive line the Tigers have been a mash unit of late with Tez Doolittle, Sen'Derrick Marks and Michael Goggans all less than full speed the last few games. Tuberville said it's still a slow process getting back to full speed but he sees improvement.

"Tez practiced some today," Tuberville said. "He tweaked his groin a little bit and we held him out for a couple of days. He should be ready to go by Saturday. Sen'Derrick is fine. He's not quite 100 percent but he's closer than he's been in a month. Goggans is the same. He hasn't missed but he's just not quite as quick on his ankle as he will be in a couple of weeks. He's a lot better."

One area that has gotten a lot of attention this week is the kicking game. With Wes Byrum struggling both Morgan Hull and Clinton Durst have gotten a look kicking field goals in practice. Tuberville said with the guys getting about six pressure kicks each in practice things have gone well with the competition but he still hasn't decided who will kick on Saturday.

"Nobody missed one today," Tuberville said. "That was the best day of kicking we've had. We'll go all the way until Saturday knowing that everybody has had a lot of work this week. We'll just go off of what they do in pregame."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Following Wednesday's practice Tuberville was asked about the comments from Auburn Board of Trustees president pro tem Paul Spina in which he said that Tuberville had made some mistakes, but he should have the opportunity to correct those mistakes. He also added he would "fight for Tuberville to have the opportunity to remain the head football coach at Auburn University". Tuberville said he appreciated the response, but it doesn't change his focus for the rest of the season.

"You look at it and appreciate it but you've got to do your job," Tuberville said. "Just keep going and work at it and try to get better. You always look for support obviously, but we've got to keep trying to get better and win games."

Athletic Director Jay Jacobs issued a statement supporting Tuberville on Wednesday. "As I do with every coach, I evaluate their job performance based on the body of work," Jacobs said. "That being the case, we will continue to support Coach Tuberville and the program as we always have, and are looking forward to the next four games."

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