Tigers Still Trying To Get Healthy

Auburn's Tommy Tuberville talks injuries, the Georgia Bulldogs and updates the status of Tray Blackmon.

Auburn, Ala.--Practicing in sweats and shoulder pads on a brisk afternoon on the Plains, the Auburn Tigers (5-5) worked out for just over two hours in full pads as they prepare to face the Georgia Bulldogs (8-2) Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Coach Tommy Tuberville said that his team is getting healthier, but is still a little banged up heading into the contest.

"It was a good enthusiastic practice," Tuberville said. "We got a few guys back out there. Obviously we've still got some walked wounded so hopefully we can get a few more back at practice tomorrow."

Defensively is where the Tigers are the most beat up with several players still nursing injuries. The good news is that several of Auburn's most experienced players should be back on the field this week. Tuberville said just getting your best players back no matter what capacity is always good news.

"Last week there wasn't a lot of pass rush with A.C. (Antonio Coleman) out," he added. "It's good to have him back, but A.C. is not 100 percent. He's going through some practice. He's still got a green jersey on. Sen'Derrick (Sen'Derrick Marks) is back, Jerraud (Jerraud Powers) and Neiko (Neiko Thorpe), it's good to have some depth at corner so you can run nickel (five defensive backs) and dime (six defensive backs). It's a little different. When you've got guys out there practicing the enthusiasm is a little bit better."

One player that won't be back on defense this season for the Tigers is linebacker Tray Blackmon. Out with a broken bone in his hand, Blackmon can't work out because of his hand and Tuberville said because of that he's given him the freedom to go out and support his family while he's unable to play. He also said right now he's not sure what Blackmon's future will be with the team because that's a decision the LaGrange native has to make for himself.

"He's going to class," Tuberville said. "What he wanted to do was just a part-time job because he's got some kids. It's what he needed to do. I'm sure he'll make his decision around the first of the year whether he's going to stay in school or whether he's going to play. That's a personal decision for him. He's got to make it on what's best for his family.

"A lot of times when players get injured they tend to look at the other side of things, do I need to keep doing this?," Tuberville added. "He's a football player. I think he'll make a decision based on his future and his family. We'll be supportive of him."

With Auburn's hit and miss success on special teams this season the Tigers have spent an extra amount of time this week working on that part of the game. Tuberville noted that because of Georgia's skill players the Tigers will have to be extra good on Saturday in that department.

Somewhere else the Tigers will need to be good is on defense. With so many guys coming back from injury and a few still slowed somewhat, the challenge could get even tougher against a Georgia offense led by talented junior quarterback Matthew Stafford. Tuberville said because of his physical skills Stafford is very unique at quarterback and is tough to stop. He got an added look at Stafford over the summer at the Manning Academy while there with his son Tucker and said even then the Georgia QB stood out.

"He's got touch on the ball and he can throw it deep," Tuberville said. "He throws crossing routes and slants very accurate. He can throw on the run. He's a complete quarterback. He's got a long future in this business. You can tell each year he's gotten better and better. He's got some people to throw it to and that also helps. They've made some unbelievable throws and catches this year. He's a complete quarterback."

Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and can be seen regionally on Raycom Sports.

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