Tigers Change Format for Tuesday Practice

Auburn returned to the practice field on Tuesday evening to prepare for Saturday's road test at Ole Miss.

Auburn, Ala.--Although Auburn's football coaches and players have credited their physical Tuesday practices with helping them win games on Saturdays, the Tigers backed off their normal strategy for their practice that lasted two hours and 15 minutes on Tuesday evening as they prepare for Ole Miss.

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said the session in which the Tigers practiced in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets was "overall pretty good."

"I thought our guys had pretty good focus,"?he said. "They were moving around pretty well."

Commenting on why the Tigers changed from their normal Tuesday routine, Malzahn said, "We haven't had an off week. We still got after it a little bit. Last week was a very physical game. We are going to have another physical game so we tried to take a little bit of the beating off them, but still we got after it pretty good."

Auburn rushed for 440 yards vs. LSU's highly-ranked defense last Saturday. The video showed some outstanding work by the offensive line, Malzahn said. "I thought they did a very good job against a very good defense," he said. "They opened up some holes. Our runners did a really good job.

"I will tell you what--our receivers blocking on the perimeter did an outstanding job," he added.

The Tigers go into the Ole Miss game ranked No. 1 nationally in this week's BCS rating period, a first for Auburn. Sophomore tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, who agreed with Malzahn that the Tigers had a good practice on Tuesday, said the players are excited about where they are ranked, but are quite aware that makes them a target.

"We are trying to downplay the whole No. 1 thing, but it is on everyone's mind and we want to break the trend of the No. 1 team losing," Lutzenkirchen admitted. "We want to keep climbing in the polls and staying on top."

Lutzenkirchen said the Tigers put in some new plays offensively and he thought the practice was a good one.

Auburn will look to improve to 6-0 in SEC play as the Tigers travel to Oxford on Saturday to take on Ole Miss. Commenting on the Rebels defense, Malzahn said, "They really run to the ball well and they gang tackle," he said. "Their interior defensive linemen are extremely talented, physical and fast. They do a good job."

Auburn senior defensive end Antoine Carter said the Tigers' defensive performance vs. LSU is encouraging. Asked what they need to do to improve overall as a defense, Carter said, "Just focus on being consistent and tackling."

Playing eight straight games without an off-week, the Tigers are trying to stay mentally fresh despite many players having bumps and bruises and some Tigers such as linebacker Daren Bates (shoulder), safety Aairon Savage (ankle) and cornerback T'Sharvan Bell (hamstring) trying to overcome more serious injuries.

"We are beat up, but so is everybody else," Carter said. "It is all about who is going to be the toughest."

Auburn defeated Ole Miss 33-20 last year to end a three-game losing streak with losses to Arkansas, LSU and Kentucky.

Antoine Carter

Carter said it is a good feeling, especially for the seniors, to have defeated those teams this year. The past two weeks the Tigers have handled Arkansas 65-43 and LSU 24-17. "It was great beating LSU and Arkansas," Carter said. "Ever since we (the seniors) have been here we haven't beaten LSU except for the redshirt seniors. It was a great feeling."

The defensive end said the seniors have played a major role in Auburn's 8-0 start. "They have meant a lot with all of the leadership we have," Carter said.

One of his assignments will be trying to keep Ole Miss quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, a transfer from Oregon, from running free on the corners of the Auburn defense and making big plays with his arm and feet. Masoli is averaging 5.3 yards per carry on 75 runs and has hit 96-170 passes for 1,260 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions.

"We have to work a little harder staying outside," Carter said. "Instead of working on our inside moves, we have to practice all week on keeping him contained so we can keep him in the pocket and let guys in the middle get pressure."

Malzahn Talks Practice--Part 1

Malzahn Talks Practice--Part 2

In other news:

*Malzahn said that fullback Eric Smith is improving and is doing a good job of handling the "dirty work" that helps make the offense successful. "To the casual observer that goes unnoticed, but he is really very valuable to us." The coach said that Smith is a smart player who has a good understanding of how to play the game.

*Auburn had just one turnover last Saturday, a fumble by senior tailback Mario Fannin, who continues to struggle with ball security issues. "He has just got to find a way to hold on to the ball," the coach said.

On the sideline after the fumble, Fannin and Malzahn were engaged in a conversation. Commenting on what Fannin said, "It was just one of those give me another chance, don't give up on me, and that is always good to hear." Fannin returned to the game after his turnover and was allowed to run the ball.

*Fannin lost his starting job at tailback to freshman Michael Dyer because of a shoulder injury and ball security issues. Malzahn said that Dyer is improving as a running back. "He has become more of a complete back," the coach said. "I really feel like he is getting into more of a comfort zone with all of the things he has to do without the ball."

*Dyer, who is rushing for 67.9 yards per contest, has the seventh best rushing per game average for freshman running backs in this week's NCAA statistics after he gained 100 vs. LSU. Dyer, who reinjured his knee in Auburn's win over Kentucky, said his knee is feeling better than he has since prior to the UK game.

*Ole Miss is adding temporary seats for the game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, which seats 60,580 fans.

*Auburn is the second least-played SEC opponent for the Rebels. Auburn leads the series 25-9. The only SEC team Ole Miss has fewer appearances against is South Carolina with 15 games.

*Auburn has played 10 times in Oxford and has an 8-2 record in those games.

*Terry Price, who coached Auburn's defensive ends from 1999-2008, coaches the defensive line for the Rebels.

*Junior defensive tackle Nick Fairley has 17 tackles for lost yardage this season. That leads the SEC and is third nationally.

*Mark Jones will do the play by play for ESPN2 of Saturday's game that starts at 5 p.m. Bob Davie is the analyst and Quint Kessenich is the sideline reporter.

*The radio broadcast will be available on Sirius channel 130.

*Auburn has unveiled a website featuring Cameron Newton, www.cam2newton.com that promotes the junior for all-star honors. "I checked it out," Newton said. "Somebody put some thought into it. I felt kind of good because they did a better job than I could've done. It's bigger than I ever thought it could be. I'm just trying to win games, that's it, simple and plain."

*Newton, who has set an SEC record for single-season rushing yards by a quarterback, is the only player in the country this season who has rushed for more than 170 yards in four different games.

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