October 18, 2006

Notebook: Tate and Ricks to play this week

What does it say about a Top 10 team that's on the verge of redshirting 20 of its 22 signees from the 2006 class?

If you're Auburn, it's a sign of a pretty healthy program.

Barring another major injury, Auburn plans to play just two true freshmen this season in defensive tackle Jermarcus Ricks and tailback Ben Tate. Ricks, who is the team's No. 5 interior d-linemen, has already played in four games while Tate has played in three.

Both are scheduled to play against Tulane Saturday. The rest, including junior college defensive lineman Greg Smith, are set to redshirt or receive a medical hardship waiver if they've played in three games or less the first half of the season.

Technically, Tate could still earn a medical hardship. But with tailbacks Kenny Irons and Brad Lester both a little banged up, the coaching staff wants to make sure Tate gains as much experience as possible, just in case.

"We've got five games left…and we're a little beat up," said AU head coach Tommy Tuberville. "(Tate's) practiced good. We've got plans to play him."

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