Chizik Talks Rematch With Gamecocks

Auburn coach Gene Chizik talks about facing South Carolina for the second time this season, this one in the SEC title game.

Auburn, Ala.--Following a 28-27 win over Alabama Friday in the Iron Bowl that saw the Tigers (12-0, 8-0) come back from a 24-point deficit, coach Gene Chizik's club has one more hurdle on its way to playing for a BCS Championship on Jan. 10. That comes this Saturday when the Tigers take on South Carolina (9-3, 5-3) in the SEC Championship Game in the Georgia Dome.

Already with a win over the Gamecocks this season, a 35-27 win in Auburn, Chizik said the second time around will be a little different for both clubs as they already have a pretty good feel for each other having played once before.

"When you haven't played anybody before you have your best estimated guess on what you think is going to be their idea of how to attack you," Chizik said. "It's only an educated guess.

"This is a little different because you can go back and say ‘what were their ideas and out of those what will they look back and say was a good idea or wasn't a good idea and how are they going to adjust it from there'? You're not going to have whole-hearted changes anywhere because obviously you've been doing something to get you to where you are."

Having a second chance to play an opponent should be good news for the Tigers considering the second half adjustments made by the team in 2010. In 12 games this season Auburn averaged 18.4 points per game in the second half while allowing just 9.5 on defense. The Tigers allowed just 17-72 third down conversions in the second half of games this season.

All those numbers should be good news considering the Tigers have already seen South Carolina for a full game of football, allowing them ample opportunity to see the plans and adjustments from the Gamecocks. Chizik said this season has been a good one for his coaches and his team as far as adjusting to the games and making the changes necessary to get the win.

"I think the first thing you do at halftime is simplify everything and say this is what they're trying to do from a general look and then you decide what you're going to do with the situations that have hurt us," Chizik said. "Usually they are very minor but the devil is in the details. If the details require it's a six-inch movement this way or we're going to rotate the coverage a little bit in this formation or we're going to pick up this blitzer on offense with this guy, there are different degrees on how to adjust. It's a serious of small things that make big differences."

At no time were those adjustments more necessary than on Friday in Tuscaloosa. Trailing 24-0 and being dominated on both sides of the ball, the Tigers turned things around in a hurry to come away with the victory. Chizik said the 2010 Auburn team has just had a special feeling about them and that showed again in the Iron Bowl.

"We told them going into the Alabama game that there was going to be a storm in this game that could be pretty violent," Chizik said. "We knew we would have to weather that storm. They hear that and understand that. Watching them down on the field there isn't any panic. Part of the reason is that we've had to do it so many times this year. I would prefer not to do that but when you get in that position it's comforting to know that we do have the ability and confidence to come back and win a game."

One of the adjustments Auburn has been forced to make in the last few weeks has been on the offensive side of the ball as teams continue to try to take away quarterback Cameron Newton's running game and make the Tigers throw the ball to win. In victories over Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama the 6-6, 250 Newton has carried the ball 63 times for 235 yards with 151 of that coming against the Bulldogs. Chizik said there's no question teams are focusing more on shutting down Newton.

"They've definitely squeezed everything in there and made it a point to make sure our quarterback runs were going to be much more difficult to get out of there," Chizik said. "I think everybody's idea going into the game is squeeze enough people in there and constrict lanes and squeeze enough to make it difficult for the quarterback to run the football. I think that's everybody's idea of trying to stop the run game. That's what we're seeing from most teams."

This will be the second SEC Championship game appearance for an Auburn team against a Steve Spurrier coached club. In 2000 the Tigers fell to Florida 28-6 after losing 38-7 to the Gators earlier in the year in Gainesville. Chizik said there is no question the Tigers will be facing a legend on the other sidelines in Spurrier this week as he's taken the Gamecocks from the bottom of the SEC to the championship game, a place nobody thought they could get.

"I think he's a tremendous football coach," Chizik said. "For all of the things he's accomplished in his career he's one of the coaches that's going to be considered one of the greatest of all time. He's won a lot of championships. He does a great job. He's obviously the reason South Carolina is in the position it's in now."


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