Focused Tigers Leap Into Game Week

Auburn coach Gene Chizik, wide receiver Terrell Zachery and linebacker Josh Bynes talk about the Tigers' first practice at the bowl site in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Scottsdale, Ariz.--After four long weeks of waiting the 13-0 Auburn Tigers had their first practice at the bowl site on Tuesday as coach Gene Chizik's club worked out for just over two hours in shorts and shoulder pads at Scottsdale Community College. Preparing to face the undefeated Oregon Ducks, Chizik said he's pleased with how his team responded following the day off and long flight on Monday.

"It was really good," Chizik said. "They were very sharp today. I thought they were focused. For our first day out here and everything being new, I was pleased.

"Just kind of looking at us leaving Auburn and getting adjusted and re-adapting to everything out here, I think they've done a great job."

Auburn stretching before practice

One of the biggest question marks has been about Auburn's ability to deal with the speed and tempo at which Oregon runs its offense. With so much time off and no games to keep the team in tip-top shape, Chizik said they've prepared the team as much as possible not only for the tempo of the game but also to get them ready at the right time.

"We're doing what we think are the appropriate things right now to be ready to play in a game after you've had a five-week layoff," Chizik said. "I think we're on track.

"As I've told my team many times, we don't need to be ready to play today," he added. "We need to be ready to play on the 10th. That's our goal as coaches to make sure we're trying to do the right things leading up to that so they're not ready to play on the ninth or the 11th."

Auburn's buses with a great view in the background.

On Monday Chizik again said that everyone made the trip to Arizona and to travel a player must be eligible. One of the players that has been brought into question time and time again by the rumor mill has been senior wide receiver Terrell Zachery. When asked if he was in danger of not making the trip he had an answer.

"Not that I know of," Zachery said. "I have been eligible the whole time. I have my degree. I'm happy to be here with my team."

Part of the most explosive offense in school history, Zachery is a key component to the passing game. Having been through so much in his four years at Auburn including being ineligible for much of his freshman season, the Wadley native recovered and earned his degree last year. Now just days away from playing for a national title he said he's excited about the opportunity.

"It feels good just being here and being on the big stage," Zachery said. "It feels real good. I think it finally sunk in getting off the plane. They had the red carpet rolled out for us. Everybody was welcoming us. It finally sunk in."

Auburn's defensive line does some extra conditioning

Nobody has faced more scrutiny than Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton this season and he's come through it with a smile on his face. That was the case again on Tuesday as he was swarmed by reporters following the practice. Giving out praise to his teammates and coaching staff for the season he's had, Newton said they're focused on one more goal as a team and that's winning on Monday. He thinks the preparation they've put in has them in good shape to give Oregon their best shot.

"I think our coaching staff has done an excellent job of keeping us on the right track, just constantly telling us that today's practice is just like a so-and-so practice," Newton said. "We're in game week right now and we've just go to prepare like we have been and continuously listen to our coaches.

"I think our coaches did an excellent job in preparing us for the process. ... We're just trying to continuously stay ready."

Cam talks with reporters

Defensively senior linebacker Josh Bynes has been through everything imaginable as an Auburn player. He's been through the highs and lows while a Tiger but now he's getting ready for the biggest game of his career. He said that while the practices went good in Auburn he could tell a different feel on the practice field Tuesday morning.

"It's a little because you're here and it's close by and you know with every day it's getting closer and closer," Bynes said. "That's the best thing about it. In Auburn we knew it was a long way off and sometimes you can get distracted because the game was so far away but now we're here and we're counting day the days until it's here."

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Auburn practiced in shorts and shoulder pads on Tuesday and are expected to have at least one more full pads practice this week before the game on Jan. 10. Auburn took six buses from the team hotel to Scottsdale Community College with each bus lined with logos of Auburn, the BCS and Under Armour.

One of the advantages to having a full week of preparation in Arizona is going to be the difference in climates between the bowl site and back in Auburn. While temperatures were in the low 50s for the practice there was a noticeable difference in the air. Senior Lee Ziemba said it took some getting used to at first but by the end of the practice he didn't notice it at all.


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