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Auburn’s Tuberville Previews South Carolina

By on September 26th, 2006 in Football Comments Off

When Auburn meets South Carolina Thursday night in Columbia, it will mark the first visit by Tigers head coach Tommy Tuberville. Despite coaching 11 years in the SEC, Tuberville has never made the trip to face the Gamecocks. Earlier this week, Tuberville talked about the game with South Carolina and shared his thoughts on the second-ranked Tigers…

Opening Statement… 
“We have a short week of practice. You always wonder about the change in your schedule, but yesterday was a very good practice. I was real proud of our players. They came out and did a good job. The coaches were prepared. We actually had a pretty good practice. We went about two hours and ran in a little early because of rain. Everybody practiced. I thought that Kenny (Irons) looked real good and Brandon (Cox) looked good. Wilhite (Jonathan) is at about 98 or 99 percent but should be 100 percent by game time. Karibi Dede practiced. We are about as good in shape as you can be in, other than losin Cole Bennett a couple of weeks ago. We have no problems with injuries; we should be close to 100 percent.

“Our guys understand what they are in to, going on the road. We are playing a football team that has won their last two games and we are playing them at home. We have not been to South Carolina in a while. It will be a very good environment, an SEC environment. We know that we have to go and concentrate and try to be consistent. They have a football team that has changed a little bit. Coach (Steve) Spurrier is more of a drop back guy, but because of injuries and some things that have happened, he has inserted a quarterback that is very mobile, makes plays and moves the chains. In the last couple of weeks they have shown that they can put points on the board. They are using their wide receiver routes a lot more with this quarterback, so we have had to adjust. We will prepare for both quarterbacks as we go into this game, but we will look at what they have done these past couple weeks. Steve always does a good job of game planning and changing things around so we will have to be well prepared with our defense. 

“Defensively, this was the game last year they changed and went to more of a conventional defense with Tyrone Nix. He has done a good job. They have moved their guys around quite a bit. They are more fundamentally sound then what they were a year ago and that has made them a better defense. They play hard and are well coached. They have had an injury or two on their defense, but they have plugged them in and have kept right on moving forward. You can tell that these players have adapted to this defense. They are playing in a much faster tempo and it looks like a different team than last year. We caught them at a time where they were changing defenses and had a quarterback that was injured. Last year’s score isn’t any indication of the type of football team they have this year.

“Our team needs to focus a lot better and be more consistent. We need to prepare ourselves for a very tough and physical game and a hostile environment. We are excited about going back on the road and are coming off the last two wins being at home.”

On Spurrier’s offense… 
“He still runs some of his offense. He wants to throw the ball and get it down the field and run his three or four level routes. He has a couple of good running backs and they are starting to run the ball more. His big problem that he has had is consistency of drives and with his quarterback and then suspensions. I think he has settled on a guy who is very mobile. They are playing some young offensive linemen. They run a little option, but he’s still Steve. He is still going to want to do some things a little different. He runs a few formations that are not conventional. He’ll try to trick you here and there. He is a fun guy to prepare for. We had to do a little work last week with our coaches just trying to look at the things we are going to have to prepare for in a short period of time. They have done a good job with their offense. If it’s any indication, they scored almost 70 points in their last two games.”

On playing on Thursday night… 
“I think it is a good opportunity for both teams. We’ve played several Thursday night games over the years. I think it is good for your school and your football team. It breaks the daily routine of what you do and how you do it. After this game, it won’t be a full week, like an open date, but it will give us some semblance of having a couple of days off before the last game. This is in the middle of the season, so we get a little bit of a break after this game. I think it is good for our conference. Over the years, you’ve seen a trend of SEC schools not playing Thursday night games. We have played our share and will continue to play some. It is one of those things where you can get publicity. People across the country can see you. I don’t know the ratings, but I’m sure all of these games get pretty high ratings for starting off the weekend of college football. I don’t know how long it has been since they have had a highly-ranked team like us play on a Thursday night. Whether we deserve it or not, we are a pretty high ranked team playing on a Thursday night. That doesn’t happen too often. I think it will enhance us and help our recruits that we have been talking to. Most of them either have games, practice or have something else they have to do on Saturdays and can’t watch our games a lot of times. It will help us in a lot of areas.”

On going to South Carolina… 
“It is the only stadium that I have not coached (head coach) at. Last year, the stadium that I hadn’t coached at was Kentucky and that is in 12 years of coaching, not just the eight that I have been here. That is kind of how badly messed up our schedules are in this league. There should be a better rotation of how games are played, where everybody plays everybody. There should be a better way of scheduling. In the last couple of years, we have changed it a little bit where we do have two rotation games out of the three. We are looking forward to it; it is a great atmosphere. It was my first college game to coach in when I was at Miami. In 1986, we opened the season there and Joe Morrison was the coach and they had a very good football team and the environment is outstanding. It is a great college atmosphere with how they start the game and the stadium is a lot like ours. It’s loud and it’s a true SEC stadium that you need to respect when you go as a visiting team.

On Auburn’s Offense… 
“We are going to have to open it up. We have to do more things. We work on them in practice. When things work you try to stick with them, but since two-a-days and spring practice,e we have gotten a lot more offense than what we’ve shown. As we go through the season, it will be used. Some of it will probably be used this game. We are excited about what we’ve done and we know it pretty well because we have been doing it so long. We just haven’t done it in games. I think this could be one of those games where we do some more things, whether it’s formations or throwing the ball or gadget plays, which we haven’t run. You have to go into a game and kind of feel your way around for a while and see what you think and as you go into it, you always keep options open. If you need them you need them, and if you don’t, you don’t.”

On Steve Spurrier adjusting to the new defenses… 
“I read a story that was pretty interesting because of what he talked about: How college football has changed since his Duke days and even some of his Florida days and how much faster the defenses are. How much more complicated defenses are that make your offense more complicated with more things they have to read. That’s probably right. I’ve seen defenses change from the early `80s until now where you put more speed on the field and you have more emphasis on defenses such as nickel and dime packages. You used to not have any of those, but because of the evolution of more teams going to the passing attack, you’ve had to do that. We are no different. We have different teams for formations or personnel or different down and distances, and I think that might be the effect of what he called the `Fun and Gun’ offense because it puts more people on the field that are a little more athletic. He is a good coach; he has adjusted as he has gone along. I thought last year that they did a great job with their offense and with limited time to put it in being that it was the first year he was there. He lost a lot of players from last year and he is 3-1 this year, so he is doing something right. He is not one that will not take a chance and he’s not one that will not make changes. He has made some wholesale changes over the last three weeks on both offense and defense of personnel and he is looking for the right combinations which we all do. With him being there only a short period of time, I think he has done a remarkable job with the hand that he was dealt.”

On Matt Clark… 
“He’s tremendous, I don’t know the exact number, but very few kicks have not been out the back of the end zone. Last week, you knew it was going to be a good game when we opened up and our first kick hit the crossbar. There really wasn’t a whole lot of wind to aid it. Matt has gotten stronger and stronger and he has got more confidence. Last year, he had a little bit of a problem with coming over the top of the ball when he would try to hit it hard and it looked like one of my drives’ right to left duck-hook. This year, he is a little bit better at it; he is more consistent. The opening kickoff against Mississippi State, he caught a little bit fat and kind of squibbed it down the field, but other than that, he has been almost perfect. It’s a great weapon knowing that a lot of your guys don’t get beat up trying to cover kickoffs.

We changed it around a little this year on the rules committee. Everybody knows that I was on the rules committee. I think that has made me more famous than I’d like to be, but we cut the tee down to one inch and that hasn’t affected him at all. He drives the ball. He doesn’t get a lot of height on it but it looks like one of Tiger Woods’ three wood stingers. When he hits it, you can pretty much tell pretty quick where the ball is going to go because you can hear the sound.”

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