Chizik Wants Business-Like Approach

The Tigers had their final on-campus football practice on Sunday night before heading to Arizona.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Gene Chizik put his football Tigers through their final on-campus practice on Sunday night before the Tigers head west to continue preparations for the BCS National Championship Game.

Chizik said the Tigers had "pep in their step" during the session at Jordan-Hare Stadium that last two hours and 20 minutes. "They were a little sharper," he said. "They are kind of getting back into the rhythm."

On Monday morning the Tigers will have a walk-through correcting mistakes and then have team meetings. The Tigers will then fly via charter from Atlanta midday and are scheduled to arrive at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport on Monday evening where Chizik will do his first press conference from Arizona.

Auburn will hit the practice field for the first of five practices in Arizona on Tuesday. The Tigers will also have a walk-through on the day before the game at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

Oregon arrived in Phoenix on Sunday and will begin practices there on Monday.

The Tigers practiced in Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time since they were preparing for the SEC Championship Game a month ago. The postseason practices have been conducted at either the Hutsell-Rosen Track and Field or at the soccer complex with the football practice fields ripped up due to a construction project with a new indoor football practice facility being built.

Chizik said the reason practice moved to the stadium on Sunday was for a "change of pace."

The Tigers worked out in sweat pants, shoulder pads and helmets on a chilly evening with temperatures dropping into the 30s.

Asked if the team is on schedule in its preparations to play Oregon, Chizik said, "I think we are right on track. We have to keep refining some things when we get out there. This is kind of where we hoped to be a couple of weeks ago when we were starting out."

Auburn's second year head coach said he wants his Tigers to arrive in Arizona with a serious attitude on Monday. "I want them to step off that plane tomorrow and understand that this is a business trip and what goes along with that," he said.

"There will be a buzz out there," said Chizik, who coached in the BCS Championship Game with Texas following the 2005 season. The coach said he is making sure his players know what to expect as they prepare to take the biggest stage in college football.

"I don't want there to be any surprises or any distractions,"?he said.

Nobody on the Auburn team has played more snaps of college football than senior left tackle Lee Ziemba, who owns the school record with 51 consecutive starts.

Ziemba, who had a chance to enter the 2010 NFL?Draft after the 2009 season, said he is very glad he stayed for one more year of college football to be part of what has developed into a special team.

Commenting on how the Tigers have looked in their on-campus workouts, Ziemba said, "We have some good practices--very focused. You can tell the focus is really there."

Ziemba has been named a first team All-American by Scout.com, the American Football Coaches Association, The Walter Camp Foundation and Sports Illustrated and also received the Jacobs Trophy as the Southeastern Conference's top blocker.

The offensive tackle said he is excited about heading into the final stages of practice for the championship game. "We have been anticipating this for the better part of a month now," he pointed out. "We are ready to get there and start putting the final preparations together."

After his team arrived in Phoenix on Sunday, Oregon head coach Chip Kelly said, "We're excited to be here. We had a very non-dramatic flight down here. It was real quick. The kids are fired up to be here to represent the University of Oregon.

"Getting a chance to play in the national championship is what these guys have worked for since actually last January when we came back after the Rose Bowl," he said. "We're excited to be here. We've got another full week of preparation before we play the game but we are ready to go."

Kelly said all of his players made the flight from Eugene and the only difference between the trip to Phoenix and a regular season road trip is that there are more players traveling with no limit on squad size.

Chip Kelly

Asked if the difficult part of preparations are done for his team if there will be time to relax, Kelly said, "No, we don't look at it that way. We knew the day we were picked to play in this game that we had 35 days to prepare, and we're counting it down, we have got our schedule set up so we haven't talked about, ‘we wish the game was here,' or ‘this changes how we prepare.' We'll get back cracking at it tomorrow with a Monday practice so everything's right on schedule for us right now."

The Ducks will practice at Pinnacle High School in Phoenix.

In other news and notes:

*As was the case last week, Chizik wouldn't say if all of his players will be making the trip to Arizona or if players will be left behind for either academic reasons or disciplinary action. "Like I said, if the roster changes with anybody, I will certainly let you," said Chizik, who noted that he had not decided when he would announce any changes.

*Chizik said the Tigers are in good shape health-wise as they prepare to travel to Arizona. "We are sitting probably as good as we could be sitting right now," he stated. "We have had a little bit of time to heal up, which has been good. We haven't had anything significant happen in practice."

*The BCS Championship Game will be the second time the Tigers have played a football game in the state of Arizona. On Sept. 11, 1976 the Tigers lost 31-19 to the University of Arizona in a game played in Tucson as the first part of a two-game home-and-home series with the Wildcats. Coach Doug Barfield's Tigers won the rematch 21-10 in Auburn in 1977.

*The game will be played at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. The Tigers will stay and practice in Scottsdale, another suburb of Phoenix. The Tiger practices, which are closed to fans, will be at Scottsdale Community College and the team is staying at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort.

*Junior wide receiver Darvin Adams goes into the championship game 76 yards away from becoming the fifth Auburn player to reach 2,000 receiving yards for his career. Adams set an SEC Championship Game record in his last outing with 217 receiving yards vs. South Carolina. It was the junior's eighth 100-yard receiving game.

*With Maryland hiring UConn's Randy Edsall for it vacant head coaching post, Auburn fans worried about losing offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn can take that off their list of things to be concerned about this week.

*Adams can move into a tie for second place in career touchdown receptions with one more score. Ben Obomanu caught 18 between 2002-2005, which is second to Terry Beasley's record of 29 touchdowns from 1969-71 in an era when freshman were not eligible to play except on freshman teams.

*Oregon's head coach said at his Sunday press conference that his team's success has not been a surprise. "I knew we had something special, and I've said it before, during spring practice," Kelly noted. "We had 15 practices in the spring and we didn't have a bad one. I could tell the players' mindset was they understood what our vision is for this football program, and the way we were going to get there was through hard work.

"When I watched them practice in the spring, I think they understood that we were going to be in this situation at the end of the year if we prepared to be in this situation at the end of the year," Kelly said. "And it started actually last offseason for us."


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