Lester Making Progress Tuberville Says

Auburn practiced for two hours Wednesday in Jordan-Hare Stadium as the Tigers get ready to face Alabama on Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.--Having a week off before the Iron Bowl game usually would mean a tough time for a team thinking about the upcoming game for an extra seven days, but for the Auburn Tigers it has been a blessing. With so many injuries on both sides of the ball it has given players a chance to get healthy. Tommy Tuberville said one of the players that has benefited the most is senior running back Brad Lester.

"Brad is good," Tuberville says. "I think he's 100 percent for the first time since the Mississippi State game. He's running like it. He's got a smile on his face in practice. It's not a struggle for him to go through practice. It's good to see most of them out there having a good time in practice running around and not having to worry about knees or ankles or bruised thighs. They are back to being their old selves, most of them."

One player that still hasn't gotten back on the field is sophomore kicker Wes Byrum. Bothered by a sore knee for much of the last month, Byrum sat out the second half of the Georgia game and Tuberville said his status for this weekend's game is still unclear. If he can't go then the job would go to sophomore Morgan Hull.

"He's day to day," Tuberville notes on Byrum. "He comes out there with ice on it (his knee). There's no structural damage, but for some reason it just locks up on him."

Under Tuberville Auburn has won at least one game in seven consecutive years against a team ranked in the Top 10 in the country. Saturday will be the last chance to extend that stretch this season as the Tigers face top-ranked Alabama. The last time Auburn played the number one team in the country it was good news as the Tigers defeated Florida 23-20 in 2001. Tuberville said there's no magic formula to their success though, just hard work.

"We have won quite a few games over the years against Top 10 teams," Tuberville points out. "It's really no secret. You treat them all the same. This year we haven't had a lot of consistency in our offense or defense. In the past we've been successful in a lot of games because we've had a lot of consistency and we would do the same things over and over and let the players get the job done. The coaches don't win games, the players do that.

"We haven't, in the past, been a team that has changed back and forth until this year," he adds. "My intelligence brought that out, but we've recovered and gone back to things we know how to do. You can tell it's worked a little bit. We've gotten a little bit better each week. In the past we've been able to compete against Top 10 teams and real good teams consistently because our players know what we're doing and we just try to execute."

That has become a theme for the 2008 Tigers as they've had to refocus their energy on offense into getting back to what they've done in the past few seasons to be successful. Tuberville said while the record hasn't shown it in recent games, he's seen a better team on the field each week.

"They're a lot better than they were a month ago," Tuberville says. "It showed in the Georgia game. We executed a lot better. We took advantage of some things we couldn't take advantage of three weeks before. Defense is recognition and playing hard. The guys have played hard the last six weeks, but we haven't had a lot of continuous recognition because we haven't had the same group out there this week. Hopefully we can recover some of that on offense, defense, and the kicking game and play a better game this week."

One of the keys to playing better has been because of the development of Kodi Burns. Tuberville said his improved play is due to his hard work and also the work done by assistant coach Steve Ensminger.

"The techniques that you do in the spread are a lot different than what we're doing with the seven-step drop, five-step drop and the play-action," Tuberville says. "In the spread it's catch it, keep your feet moving, and get rid of it. It's kind of a continuous motion. Steve has always been a drop back quarterback guy. He understands it. He's played it and he's coached it.

"He's done a good job of getting him back in balance," he adds. "Kodi sometimes throws off balance, throws off his back foot. I think he's done a good job of getting Kodi in more of a continuous motion of balance and throwing it on time. He looks a lot more comfortable. He's not near where he's going to be. Kodi is going to get better. The biggest thing about a quarterback is when you do get that going for you your confidence gets a lot better."

The Tigers will return to practice Wednesday before having more walk-through practices on Thursday and Friday before heading out of town. Saturday's game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and can be seen nationally on CBS.

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories