New Orleans, La.-–While there is plenty of time for fun in the Big Easy leading up to the Nokia Sugar Bowl on Jan. 3, the SEC Champion Auburn Tigers didn’t waste any time getting down to business once the Tigers stepped on the practice field.
In full pads for just over two hours inside the Louisiana Superdome, Auburn worked on all phases of the game and got after it with several physical sessions of full contact with the young players.
“It was a real good day,” defensive ends Coach Terry Price said following the practice. “The tempo was outstanding. The guys came back and really got after it. This is a strange group here, these guys really love to practice. I have been around a lot of teams and I have never been around one that loved to practice like this one.
"They came out and were physical and scrapped and got after it," Price added. "It was like we haven’t been off for a week or however long we’ve been off. They really picked it up as if we’d practiced yesterday. I was really proud of them.”
A big concern coming to a city like New Orleans is the nightlife that is available to the players and the chances to get into trouble. While that is obviously on the minds of the Auburn coaching staff, Price said that having kids you trust and a strong senior class helps ease his mind at night when wondering about the players.
“There’s a very fine line,” Price said between how much freedom you give the players and how much you take away. “I’ll tell you what though, we’ve got some really good kids. If we had a bunch of players you had to worry about every night or read about in the paper every single day, then it would be different story. We’ve got a great group of kids and senior leadership. Our seniors aren’t going to let anything happen to our kids. They’re going to have fun, but do it the right way.”
Auburn works on the punt coverage team with Kyle Derozan and Jay Ratliff in the middle of the action.
Still six days away from the game, the Tigers took advantage of Wednesday’s practice to get in some scrimmage sessions with the younger players getting the bulk of the action. Price said it’s an opportunity to see some guys in action and get an early start for 2005.
“We’re going to get physical and probably more tomorrow with the young guys,” Price said. “We’re going to get after it pretty good. It’s going to be good work for the older guys with the game plan, but the younger guys will get a lot of work getting them ready for next year and next spring.”
One of the seniors who is enjoying his last go-around is Bret Eddins. A veteran of bowl games both as a player and as a fan watching Auburn play, he said that coming to New Orleans is fun, but can be very tiring if you spend very much time on Bourbon Street.
“We visited Bourbon Street and saw the sights,” Eddins said. “It’s a little different than Auburn. We had a good time. It was a lot of fun, but I think most of the guys today regret walking quite that much.
"We had a good time though and I think everybody is really enjoying New Orleans," Eddins added. "You have to do a little bit at a time because you can’t really see everything here in New Orleans in one day. If you did that you definitely couldn’t make it through a practice like this.”
The Tigers do a little December sledding as offensive line coach Hugh Nall watches freshmen Leon Hart (left) and King Dunlap (77) do the drill.
Auburn will practice Thursday morning at 11:15 with the second of three scrimmages set for the end of the practice. Auburn’s practice will again be at the Superdome while Virginia Tech continues to practice at Tulane. Kickoff for the Jan. 3 game is scheduled for 7 p.m.