Tigers Finish Clemson Week Practice

Comments from Auburn football players and coaches are featured as the Tigers prepare to play Clemson.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Gene Chizik's Auburn Tigers wrapped up their on-the-field preparations on Thursday evening for Saturday's SEC vs. ACC showdown as Clemson prepares to make its first football appearance at Auburn since 1971.

Chizik's Tigers should be in good shape physically as they look to extend their winning streak vs. Clemson to 14 games. Kickoff is set for shortly after 6 p.m. CDT and a sellout crowd of 87,451 fans, the most to ever see a Clemson team play in person, is expected at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Freshman Trovon Reed, who was one of the most impressive offensive performers in the preseason, has missed Auburn's first two games with a knee problem, but could be back in action vs. Clemson. Reed has been working at receiver and as a kickoff and punt returner in practice.

Another freshman, fullback Ladarious Phillips, is still not ready for action as he continues to recover from an ankle injury.

Running back Mario Fannin, who left the Mississippi State game with a shoulder injury, has practiced this week and should be ready to play vs. Clemson. His position coach, Curtis Luper, said he likes how the senior has bounced back from the injury.

Senior left offensive tackle Lee Ziemba, who has started 40 consecutive games for Auburn, is expected to make it 41 straight despite being sidelined with a knee problem in the first half of Auburn's 17-14 win at Mississippi State.

Offensive line coach, Jeff Grimes, said it is comforting to have Ziemba back in the starting lineup after getting a scare when he went down in game two. Newcomer Brandon Mosley, a juco transfer, played more than half of the Mississippi State game at left tackle with Ziemba on the sideline.

"It also gives me comfort to know that Brandon Mosley has played a good bit and gotten his feet wet and we feel like he can get out there and help us win a game, too," Grimes said.

Coach Jeff Grimes

Grimes said he wants to see the entire offensive line group play with more intensity this week after making improvement in week two. "I think we took a step forward in this last game," he said. "Honestly, I wasn't very pleased with our effort in the first game, but I felt like we tried to be more physical in the (Mississippi State) game.

"We knocked a lot more guys down," he added. "We played to the whistle much more. We had guys running 30 yards down field to try to make a block. We are still not quite where I want it to be in terms of that fanatical finish that goes to the echo of the whistle on every play, but much closer."

Grimes said his linemen will be challenged this week by Clemson's defensive front. "They are really good. They are really talented guys. Their defensive tackles are big, physical, strong guys that can really do a great job of beating the double-team. They can get off of blocks and make plays. They are just not big space-eaters.

"Their defensive ends are long guys who have great speed and can really create pressure in pass protection rushing up the field," he added. Grimes said that Clemson will play with both four-man and three-man fronts and notes that the ACC team likes to use a variety of blitz packages out of their three-man front packages.

Senior Antoine Carter and the other Auburn defensive ends have been challenged by their position coach, Tracy Rocker, to perform better against Clemson than they did last week at Mississippi State. Rocker said that the Auburn defense needs to get pressure on Clemson's Kyle Parker, who the coach said is a talented passer.

"It is going to be big for us to get pressure on their quarterback," Carter said. "If we do our job on the front end of the defense, it will make everybody else's job easier on the back end.

Antoine Carter

"It is going to be big for us to get pressure on their quarterback with just four guys rushing," Carter said. "In my opinion we can get pressure on quarterbacks without blitzing because that is how much I believe in the guys next to me. It is going to be big for us to get in the quarterback's face whenever we can."

Carter said he has been watching video on his own this week of Clemson's offensive line and said he is looking forward to the game that will receive plenty of attention with ESPN carrying it on TV as the prime-time college football game on Saturday and with ESPN's GameDay Show taking place on Saturday morning.

The game is also going to be televised on ESPN 3D and will be broadcast around the country on ESPN Radio.

"It is going to be on the guys to stay focused and not get distracted," Carter said. "The fans are going to be excited. We are going to have to stay focused and feed off our fans and the environment."

Chizik said the Tigers continued their pattern of good workouts at their Thursday practice. "I think our guys are ready to go," the head coach said.

The fans attending the game are expected to have good weather for the contest. The temperature at kickoff is expected to be in the 80s at kickoff and will drop into the 70s during the game. There is no rain in the forecast.

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