Chizik Likes His Team's Preparations for LSU

A report on Wednesday's Auburn football practice is featured as the Tigers prepare to play the nation's top-ranked team.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn continued preparations for Saturday's football road trip to face top-ranked LSU on Wednesday night with a session the head coach said was a productive one.

"I think we have had two really good back-to-back practices to prepare for this huge game," Gene Chizik said. "It is going to be obviously a huge challenge for us, but it ought to be a lot of fun.

"We are going to have to play our best game to be able to win this game," he added. "It is going to have to be a full team effort. Offense, defense and special teams is going to have to be collectively the best game we have played up to this point to have a chance to win."

LSU is expected to play without two of its stars and a third starter on Saturday when Auburn visits Tiger Stadium. Sophomores Spencer Ware, Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon have been suspended for the Auburn game, according to TigerSportsDigest and other media sources

Asked if that will have any effect on how his team approaches the game on Saturday, Chizik said, "Absolutely not. We are concerned with Auburn and what we are trying to do. All of that stuff will take care of itself one way or the other. We are really not paying a whole of attention to that."

Ware is LSU's leading rusher with 512 yards and six touchdowns.

Mathieu has 42 tackles, which is second on the team, and he has two interceptions, five pass deflections, four forced fumbles, three recoveries, two interceptions and a cool nickname, "The Honey Badger." The defensive back and teams standout, who is the primary punt returner, has been prominently mentioned as an All-SEC and All-American candidate.

Tyrann Mathieu is a key performer for LSU.

Simon, a cornerback, has 21 tackles and leads LSU in pass breakups with eight.

Philip Lutzenkirchen, who caught a pair of passes from Clint Moseley in the second half of Auburn's victory over Florida last Saturday, was asked his opinion of Moseley being promoted to first string status over Barrett Trotter. "I feel comfortable with either one of them back there," the junior tight end/H-back said. "I know everyone on offense feels the same way.

"The coaches obviously felt Clint was a change of pace quarterback against Florida and they are sticking with him for the LSU game and probably the rest of the season," the junior said.

Moseley lost a tight competition for the starting spot when Trotter was named the starter in August during preseason drills. Moseley took the setback hard.

"I was just proud of him the way he handled not being named the starting quarterback," Lutzenkirchen said. "I know he went through a lot emotionally and mentally, but he stuck with it.

"He could have decided to leave and I was proud of him he stayed in it. I knew at some point he was a play away from getting some time at quarterback. He has got a big opportunity in front of him this week, a big challenge, and I think he will handle it great."

Going into Saturday's game Lutzenkirchen has 11 receptions for 108 yards with three going for touchdowns. He had his longest gainer of the season on Saturday night, a 23-yard hookup with Moseley, to convert a second down and 21 situation into a first down on Auburn's second touchdown drive after Chad Slade was called for holding. For the game Lutzenkirchen caught three passes for 48 yards, which matched his career-high for receiving yardage in one game.

Lutzenkirchen said the Auburn offense will face a major test on Saturday against an LSU defense that is ranked among the nation's leaders in a variety of categories. "They are good, they are very good," he said. "They are big up front and athletic, easily one of the top defenses in the SEC along with Alabama.

"You see different defenses throughout the SEC and those two seem to stick out," he said. "They are big up front and then they have playmakers behind the defensive line so it is definitely a big challenge for us. We are going to do our best to handle it.

"I remember last year it was a battle up front," Lutzkenkirchen said of Auburn's 24-17 victory last year as unbeaten teams squared off in game eight. "Coach Chizik challenged us to run the football last year and we went in with the mindset we were going to run the ball and that is what we did. We had 400 and something yards rushing and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the season. Everyone after that realized we were the real deal and peopled needed to look out for us."

At 3-1 in league play, Lutzenkirchen said his team is going to Baton Rouge with the attitude that they are playing for a repeat trip to the SEC Championship Game even though LSU and Alabama are the favorites and tied for the SEC West lead with 4-0 conference records.

l Redshirt freshman cornerback Jonathon Mincy has seen his playing time increase in recent weeks. He said his confidence is growing as his on the field time increases. Mincy made his first college start vs. Florida Atlantic when Chris Davis was out with an injury.

"At first I was kind of nervous being out there, but once I started getting more reps and being able to start, all of that kind of went away," Mincy pointed out.

Jonathon Mincy is a redshirt freshman from Southwest DeKalb High in Decatur, Ga.

The cornerback said a key in his development has been learning how to use his hands and play more physically, something he said is essential to be a successful defensive back in college. "When I came here I was kind of small and couldn't really jam," he said, noting he spends time in the weight room to help him with his strength and in the film room to improve technique.

Mincy also pointed out that he feels like he is gaining the trust of his position coach, Phillip Lolley. "He told me he is starting to feel more confident in me and he is going to start getting me out there in more situations, more reps, so I am just happy for that."

In other news and notes:

*Chizik said that Moseley is having a good week of practice and predicts he will play well on Saturday. "It is going to be a great situation for him going to an environment like this," the coach said. "That will be a lot of fun for him. I know he is excited about it and I know he has prepared well."

*A pair of starting receivers, Emory Blake and Trovon Reed, saw limited action in practice on Wednesday, according to Chizik, who noted both will be a game-time decisions on Saturday whether or not they will be available to play vs. LSU. Chizik noted with Reed being from Louisiana it will be a special game if the redshirt freshman can get healthy enough to play. "We are hoping he will be able to, but we will know more by game time," the coach said.

*The winner of the Auburn vs. LSU game has become a regular in the SEC Championship in recent years. Since the 2000 season Auburn won the SEC West in 2000, 2004 and 2010 after defeating the Bayou Bengals while LSU won division in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007 following victories over Auburn.

*Saturday's game in Baton Rouge will be carried live on CBS television with kickoff shortly after 2:30 p.m. CDT. CBSSports.com will also provide live streaming coverage of the game.

*Chizik has devoted a significant amount of practice time to punt coverage and so far this season it is paying dividends. The Tigers are ranked second in the SEC and 18th nationally in punt return defense allowing an average of 3.9 yards per return. Just as impressive is the average of only one punt being returned per game by Auburn's opponents, partly because Stephen Clark has such good hang time.

*Auburn assistant coaches Trooper Taylor and Curtis Luper said the Florida weekend was a good one for recruiting. The Tigers had a large number of seniors and juniors in for visits.

Both coaches have turned their attention to LSU and said they are particularly impressed with that team's defense. Luper said the Bayou Bengals are loaded with future NFL players and Taylor said the secondary is playing with a "frenzy" and notes the whole defense, coached by John Chavis, is particularly impressive. Taylor was on the coaching staff with Chavis for the Tennessee Vols.


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