When they meet most everyone will talk about Auburn's rushing offense and quarterback Cameron Newton against LSU's vaunted run defense. However the biggest question mark may be Auburn's pass defense against LSU's offense that is one of the worst in the nation at throwing the ball. After giving up 428 yards through the air and 43 points in a win over Arkansas, coach Gene Chizik said it should be very easy to keep his team grounded this week heading into the match up.
"I think like anything you note the positives, which there were some," Chizik said. "You note the negatives, there were many, and proceed to move on. You don't belabor any of the points. They know what they did well and what they didn't do well. You just move on to the next week. There were some things and some guys that really played hard and played well. There were times when it was a technique or a guy out of position that didn't play well. We've got to get that fixed.
"Once they watch the film today it will all come to reality that we are still in search of a four quarter game because we haven't played it yet," he added. "I think the reality of everything will set it today once they finish watching the game film. They are going to see right now that we've got to play much better than we did in some areas yesterday. In some areas we played great. All they have to do is watch the game film."
Auburn's defensive effort won't be helped without senior Aairon Savage on the field and perhaps T'Sharvan Bell as well. Both injured against Arkansas, Savage is expected to have surgery on a lower leg injury on Monday and his return is questionable according to Chizik. Bell's injury is more of a day to day thing according to the head coach, but it would be tough for him to return this weekend against LSU.
"Seeing him last night and talking to him today, the only thing I can say is that your heart goes out to him and what he‘s been through," Chizik said of Savage. "He's a tough guy and he'll move past this like he has all the other things. Our team is extremely sensitive to that and how much he means to our team. It was a hard one to look at."
Without them the Tigers' already struggling secondary will have to depend on some unfamiliar faces in the coming weeks. Chizik said Anthony (Gulley) Morgan, Chris Davis, Ikeem Means, Drew Cole, Demetruce McNeal and Ryan Smith are all guys that will get more work in practice this week to get ready in case they are needed.
Also on the injury front linebacker Eltoro Freeman dressed out but didn't play against Arkansas. Chizik said he's getting better and they hope to have him back to full speed soon. The same is true of freshman Shaun Kitchens, who was banged up against ULM. Freshman running back Michael Dyer was held out of practice some last week and didn't get much work against the Razorbacks but Chizik said they're looking for more improvement this week.
"We were very prudent in terms of practice and when we could and couldn't practice him," Chizik said of Dyer. "Well continue to do that this week until day by day we look at it and feel like he can do more."
Now the Tigers begin working towards yet another showdown, this time against LSU. The focus this week will be on defense as Chizik and his staff try to shore up a unit that has been blistered this season. While the last two have come against the top two passing teams in the conference, he said it still comes down to making plays in the end.
"I'll take the win any way I can get it," Chizik said. "Obviously we need to play much better on defense. There are times we've played well. I also have to give them a lot of credit because a bunch of those passes were right on. We've got to go up and make plays. When we've got a guy covered and we're on the right shoulder exactly where we need to be, we need to win some of those. Right now we're not. That's where we've got to improve."