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Rains Rile Auburn Practice

September 29, 1998

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) _ One day after a tornado warning cut short Auburn’s practice, torrential rain forced the Tigers inside Tuesday. Coach Terry Bowden was taking it all in stride.

``Rain forced us inside two days last year the week we played Georgia and we ended up having our best game,″ Bowden said.

Auburn will need to have its best game this Saturday if the Tigers expect to beat No. 3 Tennessee. Trouble is, the remnants of Hurricane Georges have disrupted Auburn’s preparations.

Auburn lost its indoor practice facility in April 1991 when it collapsed in an ice storm and the Tigers have been without one since.

John Watson, an Auburn booster and owner of a Dothan-area construction company, recently donated his crew to help build a new one, but the $1 million facility won’t be ready until next season.

So when bad weather hits, the Tigers usually try to wait it out. But the heavy rains Georges brought into Lee County made that impossible.

That forced Auburn to hold its Tuesday practice in Beard-Eaves Coliseum, where Bowden joked the Tigers ``would be in the corridors working on long passes.″

``If we can get outside tomorrow, we’ll be OK,″ Bowden said.

Freshman tailback Michael Burks was the only Auburn player unable to return to campus following a weekend off. A native of Kenner, La., Burks could not make the trip back because of the numerous road closings. But Bowden expected him to arrive sometime Tuesday evening.

``They originally thought it was going to hit New Orleans so he went home to be with his mom,″ Bowden said. ``He called me Saturday night and I said, `Shoot, stay until you think she’s safe.′ Then the roads were closed and he couldn’t get here.″

Defensive end Leonardo Carson spent the weekend in Mobile helping his mother secure the house.

``I did a lot of rushing around, helping my mom put things away, getting my little sister’s bike in the shed and boarded up for them and helped them go to the grocery store,″ Carson said.

He was able to make it back to Auburn on Monday and Bowden said he had not heard of any players’ homes suffering damage.

Still, the shrill sound of the tornado warning sirens was able to stir up emotions in several players. The sirens cut short Monday’s practice and when they sounded again on Tuesday, receiver Markeith Cooper shuddered.

Cooper, a junior from Miami, said Tuesday he vividly remembers Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Cooper said he and several family members scrambled from room to room as Andrew approached, only to have the windows break and part of the roof blow off every time they thought they were safe.

``We had two bathrooms and everyone crowded into them and we had to hold a mattress against the window to keep the wind from blowing in,″ he said. ``I still have flashbacks.″

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