Tigers Continue to Make Progress, Chizik Says

Comments from Auburn coaches and players are featured as the Coach Gene Chizik's Tigers continue their preparations of LSU.

Auburn, Ala.---The Auburn Tigers continued their push on Wednesday evening to prepare for Saturday's showdown between the SEC's only unbeaten football teams.

Coach Gene Chizik said he liked what he saw on the practice field as the Tigers worked out for two hours and 10 minutes in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts preparing for LSU.

"I thought it was upbeat and the energy was really high," Auburn's head coach said. "I thought the concentration level was high. It was our last day we will get to execute in any type of pads. Tomorrow we will go back to try to tidy up some things and get ready to go for Saturday."

Chizik said one of the keys to the game will be to perform well in the special teams, an area of strength for LSU and an area that Auburn has had some success with this year.

The Auburn coach said he wants to see his freshman punter, Steven Clark, put the ball high into the air with hang times of four seconds or more as he punts the ball to LSU star Patrick Peterson, who has returned two punts for touchdowns this season.

"That is going to be a very critical part of our game, there is no doubt about it," Chizik said. "The hang time on our punts is going to be huge. That coverage unit, and our kickoff coverage unit, have their biggest challenge since the season started. There is no question about it.

"They (LSU)?are extremely physical on their return teams and very athletic," Chizik said. "Obviously their returner (Patrick Peterson) is one of the best, if not the best, in the country. It is a huge challenge for our kickoff and punt teams."

Cornerback T'Sharvan Bell, who injured a hamstring last week, is still rehabbing. Asked about Bell's status for Saturday, Chizik said, "I don't know yet. We are still 2 1/2 to three days away from game time. We will just keep plugging along and see what happens by game time."

T'Sharvan Bell

Tailback Michael Dyer, who is dealing with a knee issue, scored a touchdown last week, but still isn't full speed, Chizik said. "We are hoping he is going to be ready to go full speed on Saturday, but with three days left he is not there yet."

Commenting on another defender who has missed time with injuries, linebacker Eltoro Freeman, Chizik said, "He is doing better. It will kind of be a game-time decision. He is another one who is getting close. I?am optimistic. We will know on Saturday."

Senior offensive tackle Lee Ziemba said that LSU's defense offers a major challenge for Saturday's game that will kick off shortly after 2:30 p.m. CDT and his team is excited about seeing what it can do vs. 7-0 LSU.

It is Auburn's second straight national television appearance on CBS. The Tigers won a wild and entertaining 65-43 decision vs. Arkansas last week to improve to 4-0 in the SEC and 7-0 overall.

Senior tackle Lee Ziemba and his offensive line teammates were a big factor in that win, according to offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and Chizik. "We were very physical up front and we definitely brought the punch to them," Ziemba said of the Arkansas game. "We played on their side of the ball, we knocked some guys down and had fun out there."

Lee Ziemba says the 2010 Tigers are the most close-knit team he has played on and that has helped the Tigers produce a 7-0 record.

Ziemba said in his opinion Auburn's offensive line is improving. "I think we have not only brought it, we have improved and not just with the physical nature we are playing with. Our technique and assignment-wise we are improving, and that is really good."

The senior said he is expecting a great atmosphere for Saturday's game at Jordan-Hare Stadium and is looking forward to the matchup of Top 10 teams. He said LSU's defense is very talented and well coached, something that is apparent on video and something that was shown last year in Baton Rouge as LSU defeated Auburn 31-10.

"We are going to have to play physical and sound football to beat these guys," the offensive tackle said.

One of the big differences in the 2010 Auburn offense compared to last year is that Auburn is getting an All-American type of performance from its first-year quarterback, Cameron Newton. Ziemba said that Newton has developed into a strong leader and is showing no signs of getting the big head with all of the national attention he is receiving as a potential Heisman Trophy winner.

"He is having the time of his life out there," Ziemba said. "I have never seen anybody smile or laugh as much as I see him do on Saturdays when he plays ball. It is awesome.

"He is serious when it is time to be serious, but he is also not going to let you get too tense to where you can't hardly function," Ziemba added.

In other news:

*Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes had praise for tackle Brandon Mosley after Wednesday's practice. Grimes said the replacement for injured starter A.J. Greene has been improving each game.

Brandon Mosley

*With its three-game winning streak vs. Auburn, LSU leads the series 24-19-1. Auburn has a 9-6 advantage vs. LSU in games played at home.

*The winner of the Auburn vs. LSU game has represented the SEC West in the league's championship game six of the past 10 seasons with Auburn going in 2000 and 2004 and LSU making the trip to the Georgia Dome in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

*With Auburn ranked fifth in the major polls (fourth in the BCS) and LSU sixth this will be the first time these teams have met as Top 10 ranked teams since 2006 when Auburn took a hard-fought 7-3 victory at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Safety Eric Brock made a tackle on the four-yard line vs. LSU's Craig Davis on the final play of the game to preserve Auburn's lead.

*LSU has been ranked in the Top 10 nationally for at least one polling period in the month of October for six consecutive seasons.

*LSU coach Les Miles has a 4-1 record vs. Auburn going into Saturday's game. He is 1-1 vs. Auburn in games at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

*The LSU defense is in the Top 10 nationally in three categories. The Bayou Bengals are third in yards allowed per game at 242.1, sixth in rushing defense with 83.6 yards allowed per game and eighth in passing defense giving up 158.6 yards per game.

*Center Ryan Pugh been named as one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award presented to a Division I senior who has had outstanding achievements on the football field while showing character and being involved in community service projects. Academic performance is also considered in selecting a winner.

*Auburn's Homecoming game vs. Chattanooga on Nov. 6th will kick off at noon and will be televised on a pay per view basis. "It has been great to watch him over my year and a half year develop as a player," Chizik said. "I think he has developed as a person off the field. I think he has put it all together." Chizik said that Pugh deserves that type of recognition.

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