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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pre-practice notes: Left tackle Lee Ziemba not bothered by Auburn's detractors

Auburn is No. 2 in the Bowl Championship Rankings but has taken a beating from some talking heads on TV.

The Tigers' defense, which ranks 59th nationally, giving up 24.3 points a game, is often pointed out as their Achilles' heel, one that will trip them up before the season ends.

Left tackle Lee Ziemba isn't bothered by the talk.

“I know they don’t know much about who we are, what we do have, what we don’t have," he said. "They sit on a TV set all day. I’m a part of it, so I know what we have and what we don’t have.”

Ziemba knows that if Auburn continues to win, it doesn't matter what people think of the team.

“Our strength of schedule is probably one of the best in the country," he said. "And if we keep winning, that’s all we can do. We just do all we can do and everything will work out for itself. It doesn’t bother me.”

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Some other notes and quotes from today's early interviews:
  • Chattanooga is an FCS team, which could be taken for granted. Here's how Ziemba said Auburn will approach the week: "You've got to view it as you've got to work on yourself. You've got to use it to improve individually. As far as technique, as far as understanding the scheme, things like that, that's the way you can take a step forward in a game like this."
  • The offensive line doesn't usually get a lot of credit (although this year's Auburn team is an exception). Still, the linemen are used to the ballcarriers getting all the attention. "You have to learn that at a young age," Ziemba said. "Junior high, you start seeing all the girls in the class going with the guys that carry the football. And you’re sitting back and going, ‘The reason he got that date was because of me.’”
  • Reserve John Sullen has worked at all the offensive line positions except for center. "It’s like coach wants me to be ready," he said. "If anybody goes down, I’ll be the next one in the game.”
  • There seem to be two sides to offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, the quiet, composed one who meets with the media and the hectic, talkative one on the sideline. Ziemba has seen both. "I guess I see both depending on really how much coffee he's drank. How much gum he's chewing," Ziemba said. "He takes his work very seriously. And he does a great job. He's just focused. That's all I can tell you. From August to January, the guy's all football."
  • Chizik said HB Shaun Kitchens is "day-by-day" this week but made it sound like it was more of an attitude thing than an injury. Kitchens traveled to Ole Miss but didn't play much. "He’s has to continue to work on his game," Chizik said. "He has to grow up. He has a ways to go, but we’re going to continue to work with him, but our expectations and our standards for him are going to be really high. We’re going to keep pressing him until he produces. He has a ways to go.”
  • Ziemba had a good sense that quarterback Cam Newton was going to be pretty good once he saw him take off on some quarterback draws in spring practice. "It was one of those things where you're like, 'Man, I'd hate to be a defensive tackle with that guy coming through the hole,'" he said.
  • Although he's busy with school and class, Newton has found time to work with some kids at Wrights Mill Road Elementary school. “It’s been fun for me, and I know they’re having a blast themselves," he said. "They’re kids that were so-called ‘problem children,’ and that’s why I’m taking the time out of my schedule and trying to help them, because one of the main reasons that, in my opinion, people have problems with kids is because they don’t have somebody to cope with them. A lot of times, especially in this day and time, a lot of children don’t have father figures or anybody they can sit down with and just express how they really feel about whatever is going on in their life because we do know that kids the age of six, seven, eight, or through 13, they do have feelings, too. They’re growing right in front of our eyes, and for me to do that, it’s a no-brainer for me to take time out of my day to help a little kid because that’s my passion.”
  • We've gotten some clarification on some Halloween costumes:
  • Zach Clayton's Deviled Eggs costume was apparently recycled from two years ago. He owned up to it today.
  • Ziemba fashioned a costume at the last second out of a headband and towel. The bearded, long-haired lineman was Moses.
  • Underrated costume that didn't get mentioned earlier: offensive linemen Blake Burgess as Auburn's play-call board. "He put a lot of work into it," Ziemba said. "He got some silver spray paint, some tin foil. He had boxes around his body like this, then tin foil and play cards. It was awesome. It definitely a popularity contest."
  • Mario Fannin's contest-winning costume was not in fact Dominique Wilkins, but rather an old-school basketball player looking to get into the game. "You’d go by him and he’d drop the ball and get in his defensive position like he was getting ready to play you," Sullen said.
  • The costume wasn't great, but the persona was. "I think it was his character," Ziemba said. "He was pretty good in character.”

1 comment:

Jason said...

"You have to learn that at a young age," Ziemba said. "Junior high, you start seeing all the girls in the class going with the guys that carry the football. And you’re sitting back and going, ‘The reason he got that date was because of me.’”
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OK...that's got to be the quote of the year.