Tigers Preparing for Physical Test Vs. LSU

Auburn put on the full pads on Tuesday evening as preparations for the showdown matching No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 6 LSU moved into high gear.

Auburn, Ala.--After taking the day off from practice on Monday, the Tigers put the full pads on Tuesday night for their first serious practice session to prepare for Saturday's SEC football showdown vs. LSU.

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who was unhappy with how the Tigers worked on offense the previous Tuesday prior to the Arkansas game, gave the two hours and 15-minutes practice a thumbs up.

"It was good," he said of the session that featured full speed contact work with the first offense competing vs. the first defense. "Our guys had a lot more energy than they did last week," Malzahn said. "They seemed pretty focused."

Malzahn's offense rebounded with strong performances the past two weeks vs. Kentucky and Arkansas, two of the three teams the offense struggled with during a losing streak last year. The third one was LSU, a team that will be in Auburn for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday in a battle of 7-0 teams. The game will be televised by CBS for a second straight week.

"No one likes to be embarrassed and that was a stretch where we were definitely embarrassed--our offense was," Malzahn noted of the losses to LSU, UK and Arkansas.

"This is a big one," Malzahn said of the LSU game. "They are extremely talented. We are different than we were last year. We have to be ready. We are definitely going to be motivated and we need to be motivated because they are extremely talented."

Malzahn said watching video of Auburn's 31-10 loss to LSU last year brought back less than pleasant memories. "That was a pretty low point offensively for the year," he said. "Our guys rebounded after that, but it wasn't a good feeling.

Malzahn said he is impressed with what he is seeing on video of LSU's "extremely talented" and "very physical" defense that leads the SEC in almost every category. "They have got a lot of speed and this is the most talented defense we have seen--no doubt about it."

Nosa Eguae said it is fun to be a member of a team that is 7-0 heading into a big SEC showdown with another unbeaten team this week. "It is a big deal to me," he said, pointing out that he has never had a chance to play on a team that is doing as well as this year's Auburn squad. "It is a great feeling," the redshirt freshman said.

Eguae said he is expecting a physical game this week against LSU. "They are more of a running team, a traditional SEC team," he said. The end noted the Tigers are trying to be physical in practice this week so they will be ready for LSU's big offensive line on Saturday that will try to overpower Eguae and the other Tiger ends and tackles.

"As a defensive lineman you have to like these type of games," he said. "Coach (Tracy) Rocker is telling us it is going to be a physical game. He said to bring our hard hats and be ready to play."

Nosa Eguae is starting ahead of senior Michael Goggans at end.

The defensive end from Mansfield, Tex., said that there is no concern that his team is developing too high of an opinion of itself with his Tigers fourth in the BCS standings and fifth in the major polls. "We are still making plenty of mistakes and we need to go out there and correct them," he said.

Senior offensive guard Mike Berry said that the offense has a major challenge on its hands. Commenting on LSU's defensive front, he said, "They are physical, they are fast, they play hard. LSU is one of those defensive lines where you have to bring it to them and match their physicality so it is definitely going to be a task for us."

Berry said Saturday's game vs. LSU is one of the big tests that players look forward to when they decide to play football in the SEC. Berry said if the Tigers don't bring their "A Game" to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday that LSU's defense is good enough to embarrass the Auburn offense. "Looking at last year's game, it was definitely an embarrassment," Berry pointed out. "We definitely want to make up for that."

Mike Berry is having a strong senior season.

In that loss in Baton Rouge, Auburn managed just a field goal vs. the first team LSU defense. The Auburn reserves scored a touchdown in the closing seconds vs. the LSU reserves when Neil Caudle threw a one-yard pass to Philip Lutzenkirchen.

In other news:

Michael Dyer

*Freshman tailback Michael Dyer said his sore knee that limited his playing time vs. Arkansas is doing much better and he noted that he was able to get much more accomplished in practice on Tuesday than he did last week. Dyer noted it was exciting to score a touchdown vs. the Razorbacks.

*LSU comes into Saturday's game with a 7-0 record for the first time since 1973. The Bayou Bengals, who are 4-0 in SEC play, haven't been 5-0 in the conference since 1973.

*LSU has only given up seven points in the first quarter this year in its four SEC victories. Tennessee scored an early TD vs. the Bayou Bengals, who have only allowed 19 first quarter points in their last 10 Southeastern Conference games.

Patrick Peterson

*Malzahn said that LSU star Patrick Peterson might be the best cornerback in the country and added, "They have other really, really good players beside him. You can line them up. Some of their twos are extremely talented also."

*After Tuesday night's practice Malzahn had praise for the play of the offensive line. "They are doing a great job and they are very physical. I am very proud of our guys as a whole. Coach (Gene) Chizik really challenged the offensive line and the offense about being physical a few weeks back and you can see them starting to figure it out. We are going to need to be physical this week. There is no doubt about it.

"We do have more experience the second year in the offense and our offensive line is a veteran offensive line," Malzahn added. "The skill guys are better and of course what Cameron has added. I think all of that has to do with the improvement from last year."

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