Tigers Try to Go Long and Strong on Tuesday

Comments from offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and Auburn players are featured in this Auburn football report.

Auburn, Ala.--After taking Monday off the Auburn Tigers had a longer than normal football practice on Tuesday evening going for 2 1/2 hours in full pads preparing for Saturday evening's home game vs. Clemson.

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said the Tigers should benefit from the session. "It was a good, long, grind-it-out practice," he said. "We needed that, we really did.

"You talk about last week, it was a short week, you just got through playing on Saturday and you were trying to save their legs," Malzahn said. "Today was a get after it type of practice."

The offensive coordinator said he has been pleased with the development of freshman tailback Michael Dyer. "We definitely trust him. He has worked hard on his ball security and shown very good ball security."

Malzahn said the coaches didn't hesitate to put Dyer in the game in the fourth quarter with the SEC opener in doubt at Mississippi State on Thursday night. "Mario (Fannin) had that little minor injury and had to come out so he was fresh and we had confidence in him," Malzahn said about the freshman tailback.

After practice on Tuesday night Dyer said he is becoming more comfortable each week handling all of his assignments. Malzahn said he has noticed that, too.

"The good thing about Mike he is a smart kid, but you need reps and he has gotten more and more reps the last few weeks and he is feeling more and more comfortable with the overall offense," the coach stated.

In the 17-14 victory over Mississippi State, the Tigers played at a slower than normal pace on offense. Asked about that Malzahn said, "We did go slower and there were a couple of factors. Number one, we were on the road. We were going with a new quarterback and we wanted to make sure our communication was good. That has a little bit to do with it. And the fact that we got a lead, and we wanted to be smart--whatever gave us the best chance of winning."

He added that the Mississippi State game is not indicative of a change in style of play for the offense. "We still want to play fast and score points," he said. "You have to got to give Mississippi State some credit on that, too."

Malzahn said the disappointment offensively last week was that the Tigers moved the ball decently, but made negative plays when they got into scoring position.

Offensive tackle Lee Ziemba, who had to leave the game after twisting his knee on Thursday night, said his problem is "fixed and he is good to go." He said he is looking foward to Saturday's game vs. Clemson, an opponent he competed against as a freshman in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta.

Lee Ziemba is expected to start for the 41st straight time this week.

Ziemba said the Tuesday evening practice was a good one. "I thought we were very focused. Guys came out there and you could really tell we were trying to get better. We came together at the end and did a little crossover period, ones against the twos. We did some dirty show where defense gives us some blitz looks and we have to pick them up. You could tell the people there were focused. It was a good practice."

Defensive end Antoine Carter agreed with Malzhan and Ziemba that Tuesday's practice was a productive one. "We had a great practice tonight," Carter said.

The senior noted it will be important for the ends and tackles to get good pressure on Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker. "If we take the initiative of getting the job done on the front end it will make the job easier for our secondary and linebackers. It will be important for the defensive line to get in the quarterback's face."

In other news:

l *The location for the ESPN College GameDay television show has been set for the campus green area east of Jordan-Hare Stadium, adjacent to the Heisman Drive parking deck. That is same location the show used in 2008 the last time it was set in Auburn. The ESPN GameDay crew will air its show live from 8-9 a.m. CDT on ESPNU and from 9-11 a.m. on ESPN.

*Saturday's matchup between the Tigers of the SEC and the Tigers of the ACC will be televised at 6 p.m. CDT on ESPN and ESPN 3D from Jordan-Hare Stadium. The game will also be carried nationally on radio by ESPN and the Auburn Network's radio broadcast will be available on XM channel 200.

*Protecting Cameron Newton could be a challenging assignment for the Tigers on Saturday evening. Clemson has eight quarterback sacks in two games. Andre Branch leads the ACC school with three. Auburn center Ryan Pugh said from watching video of Clemson's defense in two games last year plus games from 2009 that he sees a lot of good athletes for his Tigers to block.

*Saturday's game will be the first Auburn sporting event to be telecast in 3D. Pugh joked that isn't a big deal because 80,000-plus fans who come to Jordan-Hare Stadium are used to watching their football in three dimensions.

*Fans who want to see the game in person can do that. Clemson returned tickets that are available for $65 and can be purchased online at AUBTix.com or by calling 1-800-AUB-1957. If tickets are available on Saturday they can be purchased from 10 1.m.-4 p.m. at the Auburn Arena Ticket Office and after that at the Jordan-Hare Stadium ticket booths.

*Clemson is 2-0 as it makes its first football appearance in Auburn since 1971, the year Auburn's Pat Sullivan won the Heisman Trophy. Clemson has two home victories over North Texas (35-10) and Presbyterian (58-21).

*After grading the game video, Malzahn said that overall he thought that Newton did a good job at quarterback, especially for a player making his first SEC road start.

*Head coach Gene Chizik said on Tuesday he would like Auburn fans to wear blue for Saturday's game which AU has designated as a "True Blue" contest. "Our team looks forward to a stadium full of Auburn blue for this game," Chizik said. "I encourage the Auburn Family to support this initiative for what is sure to be an electric atmosphere on Saturday night."


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