Chizik: Ole Miss Game Video Shows Progress

Auburn football coach Gene Chizik said he is seeing progress as his Tigers head into their off week.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn coach Gene Chizik had praise for the offensive line, the special teams and linebacker Eltoro Freeman after he and his coaching staff graded the video of Auburn's 41-23 SEC football victory over Ole Miss.

"Offensively, I thought we played much better in terms of all the way around, starting with the offensive line physicality in the run game to protecting the quarterback," he said on Sunday. "Certainly, we were able to throw the ball down the field more vertically than we have been able to, which loosened up some of the run game stuff.

"We wanted to run Michael (Michael Dyer) a good bit last night and we felt eventually he would break one, and that happened," Chizik said of the sophomore, who rushed for a season-high 177 yards on 27 carries.

"Defensively, we had to make some adjustments at halftime," the coach said. "We had to play a little more eight-man front to stop some of the counter running game things and things coming in to the boundary. We got that fixed."

After having issues in the kicking game at LSU, a first for the 2011 season, the Tigers bounced back in that area vs. Ole Miss.

"I thought special teams did a nice job," Chizik said. "They had a great punt returner (Jeff Scott) and Steven (Clark) was putting great height on the ball giving us a great chance to get down and not give them many opportunities for returns, which was a big part of the game plan.

"Cody Parkey did an amazing job again of giving us great field position," he noted. "On the ones (kickoffs) that were returnable, we covered them well."

Chizik said the video also showed the Tigers played hard from start to finish vs. the Rebels.

"Overall, I thought we made some improvements," the coach said. "The defense getting the turnovers they got were huge. I think the game was a classic example of doing all the things you have got to do to win. We didn't play great all of the time, but we did the things we had to do win the ball game."

Ole Miss came into the contest having success with its deep passing game, but the longest pass completed against the Tigers was 17 yards. In the first three quarters, when the game was still in doubt, the longest completion was 12 yards.

"We harped on it all week that we can't give up the deep ball," said Chizik, whose secondary got beat twice for bombs in the second quarter vs. LSU. "They (Ole Miss) were really hitting a lot of people with deep balls. They were hitting people with double moves, the curl and go, the stop and go, all the things that beat corners deep. We worked on it all week. They really did a great job of going into the week and shutting down that part of their game plan."

Gene Chizik's Tigers are 6-3 going into their off week.

Chizik said he liked the way the safeties and corners "played the football in the air." He said the secondary wasn't perfect in that area, but has made major strides, especially compared to 2010. "It has been done much better," the coach said.

Another highlight on defense was the play of senior linebacker Eltoro Freeman, who led all tacklers with nine solo stops and two assists. Chizik said the video confirmed what he thought after the game that Freeman played really well.

"Toro had a really nice game," Chizik said. "I am really proud of him. The film indicated that. He needs to continue to improve for us to have a chance to win some of these games coming up. He has certainly taken a step forward."

The Tigers won't return to practice until Wednesday with this being an off week. "It is definitely well needed," said Chizik, whose Tigers return to action for game 10 at Georgia a week from Saturday.

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