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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pre-practice notes: Auburn-LSU winner will be last unbeaten team standing in the SEC

When No. 5 Auburn and No. 6 LSU meet this Saturday, only one will emerge as the SEC's lone unbeaten. That either team would be the last team standing in the SEC would have fetched long odds prior to the season.

"I don't think people would buy it," Auburn linebacker Craig Stevens said. "It is kind of hard with Alabama playing the way they were playing, Arkansas playing the way they were playing. I think a lot of people expected those teams to be the last two standing. So I think we surprised a lot of people."

Both teams are 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the conference, making it a big-stage game for the SEC, in the middle of the afternoon on CBS.

"You've got to approach it the same way you approach any other game," left tackle Lee Ziemba said. "You have to hit the reset button on Sunday. You're nothing and nothing. You don't have a win. You don't have a loss. You've just got to go in there and play."

Auburn hasn't played in a game when both teams were in the top-10 since LSU's last visit to the Plains in 2008, when the No. 6 Bengal Tigers pulled out a 21-16 win against the No. 10 home team.

Auburn's last win against a top-10 team came in 2007, when it knocked off No. 4 Florida 20-17.

"That's basically what you came to the SEC for," left guard Mike Berry said. "You knew you were going to see some of the best talent week-in and week-out."

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Here are some more notes and quotes from today's early interviews:
  • Ziemba said you can tell when you're going up against LSU. "Year-in and year-out, LSU is the most physical and athletic defensive line we face," he said. "We'll have to bring our lunch box, definitely."
  • Stevens prefers to play a smashmouth team like LSU. "A team like this, I like playing a lot because there's less trickery," he said. "You know they're coming straight at you and you're going straight at them, it's man on man. I'd say I like that kind of game."
  • Auburn's put up some big offensive numbers. Is it starting to feel invincible? "Like coach Chiz said, don't drink the Kool-Aid," Berry said. "The coaches are putting a big emphasis on be humble rather than be humbled."
  • Case in point: last year's game in Baton Rouge. Auburn finished with only 193 yards of total offense in a 31-10 loss. "If you don't bring your 'A' game, you'll get embarrassed," Berry said.
  • Cam Newton gets fired up after touchdowns. Ziemba said it's all in good fun. "He's an emotional guy, but he's got a sense of humor," Ziemba said. "That's what that is. It's not a, 'Hey, look at me.' It's definitely a team thing. He's having the time of his life out there. That's what you have to remember. I've never seen anybody smile as much or laugh as much as I see from him on Saturdays in the stadium when he plays ball. It's awesome."
  • Newton has made a habit of eating with the offensive linemen on Fridays before games. "We had an extra seat and he kind of smalls bad, so nobody else would let him sit with them," Ziemba joked. "We smell bad, too, so we let him sit with us."
  • Does Ziemba hear all the Heisman buzz about Newton? "We're not really focused on that right now," he said. "We're focused on LSU. Post-season awards and championships will come as long as you take care of the week-to-week."
  • Ziemba thought long and hard about saying something about the holding penalty he got called for last week against Arkansas before offering a "no comment."
  • Les Miles and LSU has had some luck go his way at the end off games this year. Ziemba said that's not a bad thing, necessarily. "That says they must be a close team like we are if they've been winning like we have," he said. "They must be as willing to fight for each other as the guys are here. It's a testament to the guys they have there and the coaches."
  • Auburn has had a few crazy ending this year itself. The craziest? "I don't know. I'd have to say the most nerve-wracking was Clemson with the missed field goal at the end," Stevens said. "That had to be the craziest game to me."
Just got the transcript from Gene Chizik and Newton's presser. Here are some longer quotes from it:
  • Chizik, on LSU's defense: "They have a great defense, there’s no question about that. They’re at the top in just about every category you can get defensively. I think it all starts with their defensive line. Over the years it has been true that their defensive line has been very physical and athletic and it doesn’t change as you go further back in their defense."
  • Chizik, on playing in big games: "I have been blessed to be in a lot of big games and I just think you continue to do whatever you did to get you there because in this league, as I said, there are no surprises in terms of how large, how big, and what the games mean and all of those things, because all they have to do is go home and pull it up on the Internet. They’re getting it from everywhere. Our job is to make sure that we don’t change what we do and to approach it like we always do and try to be better Saturday than we were the previous Saturday.”
  • Auburn's defense has not played well. Chizik is aware of it, but he tries to get the players not to worry about it. "We talk to them all the time about, ‘Don’t look at the scoreboard, don’t look at the stats, don’t look at that stuff until the clock says 0:00,’" he said. "I think they’ve really sunk their teeth into that conceptually.
  • Last year's game, as mentioned above, didn't go well for Auburn. "That team that took it to us in Baton Rouge is just the same team," Chizik said. "If we can have any chance of winning Saturday we just can’t be the same team.”
  • Talking vaguely about coaches staying calm and not freezing up at the end of big games, although reading between the lines, there are some Les Miles undertones to this: "I think that’s what our job is. That being said, it is really easy to sit back in your living room on your rocking chair and when that split second decision has to be made and somebody doesn’t do it exactly right, everybody’s up in arms. Those decisions in that split second become tough. You have to be really focused and locked-in and that’s easier said than done. However, that’s what our job is. That’s what we are expected to do. When there’s a lot of pressure and time’s winding down and you have to make this decision and that decision, it gets hairy sometimes. I think most of the time coaches do a great job with that.”
  • Newton hasn't grown tired of the Heisman talk yet. "I just know it’s a week to week thing," he said. "As soon as I slip up it’s not going to be there anymore."
  • Team chemistry has been a hot topic today. Here's what Newton had to say about it: "The biggest thing is that everybody is taking ownership and being accountable for their particular roles on the team. Earlier, before the season even started, we had a speaker come in and speak with the team and his main quote was ‘Everybody staying in their lanes,’ so if you’re a water boy, serve water, if you’re supposed to be a playmaker, make plays. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. You don’t make excuses for your job description, you just go out there and do it."
  • Newton, as mentioned earlier, likes to have fun on the field. "A wise man once told me, ‘Anything that’s worth doing, if you’re not having fun with it, why do it at all?’ So I think God has blessed me with the talent to play football, and that’s something I’d like to do day-in and day-out, and if I’m not having fun doing it, why play the game? Any time or any chance that I get to grasp the fun side of it all, I want to do that in full effect.”
  • Newton likes to get hyped on the field. He learned it from Tim Tebow. "That’s just something that you give and you get. You feed the crowd, and the crowd gives you this type of energy that gives you the ability to feel like you can do anything. I learned that from the great Tebow. You’ve seen him, every time he got a chance to celebrate with the crowd he did it in full effect, and everybody knew it. Anytime he made a big play he was doing it, and it was so contagious from the crowd to the team and that can be a momentum builder that can help a team to do great things in the next drive.”


Tar Heel Tiger said...

I guess Stevens didn't look at the schedule. Kind of hard to expect that ua-t and Arky would be the last two unbeaten SEC teams since they play each other so early in the season.

Andy Bitter said...

Probably an "or" situation.

postermom said...

Cam's going to have a giant bullseye on his back from here on out. He'd better not only eat with the O-line, he'd better fan them and feed them grapes. And he'd be wise to switch from the scooter to a Hummer with sandbags lining the floor.

Melissa said...

That picture of Josh is funny, I'd hate to see that face running towards me!

AUsome04 said...

Wow, AB great work as usual. It'll be interesting to see how this goes down. Auburn says it's all about business and just another game and LSU says they embrace the big game & knows what it takes to win a big game at Jordan-Hare. Hum?

postermom I can see that mom coming out of you for sure. But I'd be remiss to say I didn't think the same thing weeks ago about Cam safely ridin' on that scooter. Boy, you never know with some bammer & SEC fans out there...just kiddin...I think
War Eagle gals & guys

MikeP said...

LSU says they know what it takes to win at Jordan-Hare. Arkansas said they knew how to stop Malzhon's offense. 65 points later....

I remember some fighter saying he had a plan for Mike Tyson. When told about this, Tyson's reply was: "Everybody has a plan until I hit 'em".

Saturday is going to be INTENSE!