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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pre-practice notes: No. 7 Auburn enjoying the moment, but trying to keep business first

Gene Chizik's Auburn Tigers are the highest-ranked team in the SEC after getting to the midway point of the season unbeaten.

Auburn is trying to go about it's business while still enjoying the moment.

"Every week will be business as usual," Chizik said. "I think everybody understands that if you continue to win, what's at stake the next week. I don't think there's any secret to that. Literally, we'll be business and usual and try to continue to get better."

The Tigers are ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press, coaches' and Harris polls. No SEC team is ahead of them. It's the lowest the top SEC team has been ranked since October of 2006, when -- guess who? -- Auburn was the top-ranked team at No. 7.

Chizik has tried to keep Auburn, which hosts No. 13 Arkansas this Saturday, from getting too high or too low from week-to-week.

"We constantly talk about not letting your circumstances dictate how you proceed, good or bad," he said. "We just try to carry on."

Here are some more news and notes from today's teleconference:
  • The defense stepped up late in close games to lead Auburn to victory earlier in the year (MSU, Clemson, South Carolina). The offense bailed things out at Kentucky. "I've been really proud of our team the way they've won," Chizik said. "Last night was probably different than most. I just think it's hard to win with a 19-play drive, eating up seven and a half minutes and then kicking the field goal with no time left so you don't give a potent offense time to get back on the field. That's probably a little bit different than the way we've won some of the other ones. It's really neat to see us be able to do those."
  • Chizik said the Tigers were trying a reverse on the final kickoff, which ended with a fumble Auburn was fortunate to fall on at its own 7. "We had it walled off, we had it sealed off and we had one guy get penetration and we just felt like all night we were set up to be able to run it," he said. "We had a bobble on the exchange because we had some penetration in there, so the outcome wasn't exactly what we wanted."
  • WR Darvin Adams caught five passes for 101 yards, making some tough grabs on third-down situation to move the chains. "He's very competitive and when the game's on the line, he wants the ball in his hand," Chizik said. "I think it's that simple."
  • It is not a credit to the coaching staff. "We'd like to say it's coaching, and it's not at all," Chizik said. "It's just the ball's got to be there and he's got to go up and make the difficult catches. A high percentage of the time, he does."
  • Chizik on the defense: "If you look at our conference play, I think our defense in conference play has stepped up to the plate against some really good offenses." (That seems to be a generous statement.)
  • With Ryan Mallett under center, Arkansas can chuck the ball. "This probably will be the biggest challenge we’ve faced up to date in terms of receivers and quarterbacks, and just defending their offense period," Chizik said. "But certainly the quarterback and receivers are among the best in the country as a whole. It’ll be a great challenge for us again, and our guys will come out and fight next week."
  • Chizik said Auburn did an OK job of covering Kentucky's underneath routes (another generous statement). Arkansas doesn't just throw the ball underneath, though. "We’ll have to be able to play the whole gamut with these guys," he said. "They’ve got it all."
  • On Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, who Chizik coached with at Auburn in 2002: "He’s got a great feel for defenses. He sets all his plays up with a previous play somewhere in the six or seven plays before that. He’s got a great play-action game right now where it’s really hard to tell if it’s run or pass. He’s just one of the best in the country.”
  • LB Eltoro Freeman was banged up. That's why he didn't make the trip to Kentucky. He's "day-by-day."
  • WR DeAngelo Benton hurt his ankle late. TE Philip Lutzenkirchen got hurt too. "Both of those guys, just kind of the middle of the year, bumps and bruises and they're like everybody else and we're going to wait and see as the week unfolds," Chizik said.
  • DE Craig Sanders is day-by-day too. WR Shaun Kitchens too.
  • Kickoffs, for the first time this year, were not handled well. There wasn't enough hangtime. "We're always looking for a four-second hangtime on those. And distance to go with it," Chizik said. "And that was disappointing, starting with some of the kicks." He thought Cody Parkey did an OK job, but the coverage units weren't solid and Randall Cobb broke free for some big returns. "It's the first time I've really seen a weakness in it in six games," he said.
  • Freshman P Steven Clark sounds like the guy from here on out, instead of Ryan Shoemaker. "We're going to go with who we think is the best guy," Chizik said. "And we just felt like he's been making a lot of progress in practice, and we felt like it was time. And we want a guy who's going to be able to get some better distance and hangtime and things of that nature. We just felt like again, we're going to see who is the best guy for Auburn. and that's why he played." (Clark's got some improving to do. He averaged 34 yards on two punts.)
  • Four personal foul penalties yesterday. Two very questionable ones on Zac Etheridge near the sideline. Chizik said the team will address it. "You don't want to take back their aggression and things of that nature," he said. "You've got to be smart when you're getting close to the sideline. That's where two of them happened."

2 comments:

scottie burns said...

nice work AB.

fyi, i've really enjoyed the twitter updates during games. i don't have a smartphone yet & i've caught some stuff from you i haven't been able to see from inside the stadium. thx homes.

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