Chizik Looking For Physical Play From Tigers

Auburn Coach Gene Chizik discusses questions on both sides of the ball, being physical, and more.

Auburn, Ala.—The old saying ‘a win is a win' may apply in most cases, but for Auburn Coach Gene Chizik that's about the only thing that came out of Saturday's comeback victory over Utah State, the win. Struggling on both lines of scrimmage and having to pull a rabbit out of the hat for the win, Chizik said the first order of business for the Tigers this week in preparing for a physical Mississippi State team is to play better defense.

"We've got some cleaning up to do on some alignments," Chizik said. "With all the different moving parts yesterday, that was certainly an issue that we have to get cleaned up, coaching staff-wise. We definitely need to tackle better as a defense. There's no question about it. And we've got to be more physical at the point of attack, at the run game. That was obvious yesterday when we weren't able to stop the run, particularly when they brought in two or three tight ends.

"We've got a lot of work to do. Again, not pleased with the result. But there were some positives out there we're going to build on. We played a lot of young guys. We played six inside defensive tackles and five defensive ends up front which, you know, is where everything starts. But we've got to play better all the way around. Again, just being able to play some young guys and get that experience, that's just going to help us down the road."

It wasn't just the physical nature on defense that was the problem for Auburn against Utah State as alignment problems played into the troubles as well. Chizik said that's something that can and will be fixed now that the coaches have had a chance to get the guys in game action.

"I don't feel like there was near the communication we need," Chizik said. "We know where we're at now. We've got a good picture of what our strengths and weaknesses are, what we're good at and what we're not. We have to get those fixed. That's what our goal is this week."

The lack of physical play on defense carried over to the offensive side of the ball as the Tigers were held under 100 yards rushing for the first time since Gus Malzahn became the coordinator for the 2009 season. One of the reasons for that is the Tigers have four new starters on the line with senior Brandon Mosley moving to left tackle from his home on the right side. Throw in a true freshman at center and you have the makings for some tough times while things come together.

"I think there are a lot of reasons why there is the potential not to be (physical)," Chizik said. "You're thinking out there and if you're a double-team block where is the linebacker you're working to? There are a lot of moving parts out there and the more you think the more you're going to slow down. That's on offense or defense. That becomes part of the issue. Our goal and our job is to make sure they have a comfort level enough to where they stop thinking so much and can be physical football players and a physical team. I have no reason to believe and I fully expect us to be a better football team next week than we were this past week."

Tiger Ticket Notes:

*Auburn junior linebacker Jonathan Evans led the Tigers with 14 tackles in Saturday's game before leaving the field late after getting banged up on the onside kick by the Tigers. Chizik said they didn't have an update on him yet.

*Chizik discussed DeAngelo Benton's absence and said much of that was because of the way the game played out: "Really and truly, we went in with a plan of who was going to take most of the reps," Chizik said. "But offensively that changed a little bit because as you could see, we weren't out there very much. So that changed some. But our plans in terms of playing different people obviously have a lot to do with the reps we were getting and being able to sub and keep guys fresh so that we could adapt and adjust on the run there."

*When talking about Kiehl Frazier playing on Saturday, Chizik said that's something that may be expanded down the road as he continues to get more into the offense: "Yes, our plans are to just keep helping him grow, keep helping him get a comfort level with the offense where he feels like he's got some confidence in whatever those roles are in what we're asking him to do. So without going into detail of what those roles are, yes that's our plan."


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