Tigers Have Productive Friday Practice

Tailback Ronnie Brown and fullback Brandon Johnson both had good practice days on Friday.

Orlando, Fla.--After a night of entertainment at Disney World, the Auburn Tigers returned to the practice field Friday and had a sharp two-hour practice on a perfect day in Central Florida. Coach Tommy Tuberville said that his team has responded well since arriving Christmas Day and he's excited about what he's seen out of them to this point.

"It was a much better practice today than it was yesterday," Tuberville said. "We got a lot more done. We're kind of getting the newness worn off...every morning we're going to push them hard for about six hours and give them a lot of free time. There are no injuries to speak of. Everybody is still pretty healthy. Tomorrow will be our last contact day--after that we'll start walking through and working on the kicking game. It was a good practice today. We've got most of the game plan in and we worked on our short and long yardage in today. We're ready to go."

Offensively, quarterback Jason Campbell threw the ball well down the field to a collection of wide receivers led by freshmen Devin Aromashodu and Ben Obomanu. Running backs Ronnie Brown and Brandon Johnson both showed improved footwork and speed and will be at or close to 100 percent when Auburn faces Penn State on New Year's Day. Tuberville said both Brown and Tre Smith will be the focus of the running game for the Tigers as they face a physical Penn State defense.

"They're probably used to seeing more running teams than we are," Tuberville said of the Nittany Lions. "I'm sure they'll have a pretty good bead on our tailbacks and play the run, but we're a balanced team running play-action passes off the running game. I think that's the biggest difference in our team, not only being successful running the ball but in the play-action off the runs that we do have."

Ben Obomanu catches a pass at Thunder Field Friday.

Defensively, the Tigers worked on tackling and pursuing the ball with Victor Horn running as the scout team impersonation of Penn State All-American Larry Johnson. Tuberville said that being able to stop the run is going to be a key for Auburn against the Nittany Lions.

"He's one of the best in the country and very strong," Tuberville noted. "He's versatile and runs as well outside as he does inside. It will be a challenge for our defense. We're not a big defense. We seem to be a better team when we run people down. This is a different type of team. We don't see this type of team in our league very often. They run at you and have the big 230-pound tailback. It's good that we have a couple and are able to simulate it in practice, but it will be a different day when we get to January 1."

Mark Brown and Dontarrious Thomas take a break during practice.

The Tigers will have a free night on Friday and will practice at 10:45 Saturday morning at Thunder Field. Following the practice the team and Tuberville will head to Universal Studios and City Walk where they will take part in several activities against players from Penn State at 4:30 p.m. EST.

"Today is one of our free days," Tuberville said. "We don't have anything planned for them. We're going to give them the day off. They can do whatever and go look at the town and different things we don't have planned the rest of the week. Several players are going to go out and play golf today. It has been a fun time and we're looking forward to the game. Right now we're still having fun at the parks and let the guys enjoy the time they're having."

Kickoff for the game on New Year's Day is scheduled for 1 p.m. EST and can be seen on ABC.

The Tigers pose for a group shot in front of Cinderella's castle at Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Tiger Ticket Extra: After missing Thursday's practice because of a death in the family, senior quarterback Daniel Cobb joined the team Friday for his first practice and looked sharp in the passing drills. Tuberville said they plan to get Cobb some playing time in the game, his last as an Auburn Tiger...With offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino coaching his last game at Auburn against Penn State, Tuberville is in the process of finding a replacement for his staff. With so much going on in Orlando, he said that his timetable for naming his man would be shortly after Auburn returns home. "We'll get somebody probably the week after we get back from the bowl game. I'll take two or three days and I'll knock that out pretty quick, hopefully, before I go to the convention (American Football Coaches Association) in New Orleans the following Sunday. I don't want to have a job opening when I go down there. That's not fun."

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