A Different Tuesday Practice for the Tigers

The Tigers returned to the practice on Tuesday after taking Monday off and changed their workout plan.

Auburn, Ala.--After increasing the amount of contact and intensity in practice the past three weeks, the Tigers are going lighter this week as they prepare for Saturday's Homecoming game vs. UT-Martin.

"We cut the periods a little bit, but we were still getting after it," says senior offensive guard Tyronne Green.

"I feel they are trying to let us get our legs back under us a little bit and have us fresh for this week," he says. "Hopefully, we will go out and get a win this week to be prepared for next week's game."

Part of the recent routine in practice on Tuesdays has been full pads, full contact drills with the one offense going against the first team defense. This Tuesday the Tigers practiced in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets with very little of the session matching the best vs. the best.

"They gave us a break from going against the first defense," Green notes. "It was mostly scouts (scout team) and going through our game plan for this week--some of the plays we are going to run so we can start polishing up and cutting down for the rest of the week."

Another Tiger, running back Mario Fannin, says he thought the Tuesday practice "went real good." The sophomore says the workout was noticeable different than recent ones. "We are trying to get our legs back," he says.

Fannin says that the Tigers spent time preparing for what they expect to see from the 7-2 UT-Martin Skyhawks, a team that is in first place in the Ohio Valley Conference. "They have a pretty solid defense and they will give us a lot of looks as far as formations," he notes. "They won't be an easy team to play. They look athletic."

Fannin says his Tigers need a win this week no matter who the opponent is. "After losing four straight, just getting back into winning would be great," he notes.

Head coach Tommy Tuberville agreed with his players that the Tuesday practice was a good one although he is concerned that a variety of key players spent the practice in the training room including defensive linemen Sen'Derrick Marks (two ankle sprains), Antonio Coleman (neck and leg problems) and Tez Doolittle (groin pull). Defensive lineman Mike Blanc, who injured his hand vs. Ole Miss, didn't practice on Tuesday, but is expected to be able to play on Saturday with a wrap to protect his sprained ligament.

Wide receiver Rod Smith (hip pointer) didn't practice either and the painful injury is expected to keep the senior a spectator for his Senior Day game this Saturday.

Freshman cornerback Neiko Thorpe, who suffered a high ankle sprain vs. West Virginia, is making a surprisingly quick recovery and practiced on Tuesday so there is hope he will be able to see action this weekend. With starter Jerraud Powers still sidelined with a hamstring problem, Thorpe has a chance to start this week ahead of fellow freshman D'Antoine Hood, who filled in for both Thorpe and Powers last week and had a solid performance in not only his first college start, but his first significant playing time at corner.

Fellow cornerback Walt McFadden is upbeat about Thorpe's progress and predicts the freshman will be able to go. "He looked good at practice today," says the junior, who notes he should be back to full speed on Saturday after being sore from a clip to the back of his knee and his ankle last week at Ole Miss.

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