Tigers Continue Preparations for Homecoming

Comments from Auburn football coaches and players plus news and notes are featured in this report.

Auburn, Ala.--A pair of Auburn assistant football coaches said after Wednesday night's workout that the Tigers are having a solid week of practice as the team tries to bounce back from a lopsided loss at Georgia and get ready for a Homecoming game vs. Samford.

"It actually has been pretty good," wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor said of the team's attitude this week. Taylor said it started out "pretty rough" with the players being lectured by the coaching staff that what happened last Saturday vs. Georgia, a 45-7 loss, was "not acceptable at Auburn."

"Everybody knows that Coach (Gene) Chizik was going to get that point across and he did, and rightfully so," Taylor said. "The last couple of days have been good. The guys have been flying around and getting after it."

Taylor said the distraction of having a tornado miss their practice facility by about 1,000 yards at midday on Wednesday wasn't an issue as the Tigers practiced under the lights in shorts for nearly two hours putting in the game plan for Coach Pat Sullivan's Samford Bulldogs.

On the defensive side of the football safeties coach Tommy Thigpen agreed with Taylor about the team's attitude and noted he likes what he has been seeing from sophomores Demetruce McNeal and Ryan Smith in practice this week as they compete for a starting spot.

Smith took McNeal's starting spot last week because of too many mental mistakes in previous games by McNeal, according to Thigpen, who added that has motivated both players to fight for the spot at the top of the depth chart.

"It is really healthy competition between the two of them and I?really like it because neither guy knows who is going to start," Thigpen said. "I think we are talking about a game-time decision on who is going to be the guy based on who makes the least mistakes.

"I like they way they are approaching it," the coach added. "They are rotating in practice and they are watching more and more film with one guy trying to get an edge over the other."

Asked how he believes the defense will respond after struggling at Georgia last Saturday, Thigpen said. "They have been good in practice. One thing about Auburn, since we have been here for 2 1/2 to three years is the players have always played well at home.

"When we lost the game to Kentucky two years ago it went down to the last second and even when we lost to Alabama in 2009 when they won the national championship it went down to the last drive so there is a lot of pride at home. Sometimes when you are dealing with a young team that gets lost when they are on the road. It is easier to get distracted on the road.

"At home this has been a different team," Thigpen pointed out. "I am looking forward to the next two games with our team because I?know they always play well at home."

Saturday's game will kick off at noon Central time. Prior to that there will be a ceremony at 11:35 a.m. honoring Samford head coach Pat Sullivan on the 40th anniversary of winning the 1971 Heisman Trophy as a quarterback at Auburn.

Also being honored prior to Saturday's Homecoming game will be the seniors. The group includes Chris Brooks, Sam Brown, Quindarius Carr, Drew Cole, Jake Drum, Jared Cooper, Eltoro Freeman, A.J. Greene, Josh Harris, Davis Hooper, Chris Humphries, Bobby Ingalls, Brandon Mosley, Vance Smith, Neiko Thorpe and Jay Wisner. Brooks, Brown, Drum, Harris, Hooper, Humphries, Ingalls and Wisner all came to the team as walk-ons. Harris, Hooper and Humphries each have been put on scholarship.

Quarterback Clint Moseley, who will be making his first college start on Saturday, said his team is "so hurt" as the result of suffering its second lopsided loss of the season, falling 45-7 at Georgia to go with a previous 45-10 loss at LSU.

"For it to happen twice in a year it is tough to handle because we are all competitive," Moseley said. "We all try so hard and we spend so much doing this. To let ourselves and the fans down like that is tough. We are at the point where we have to have leaders step up. Obviously, it starts with me because I am the one that touches it (the football) every play. I am really going to work on that.

"There are a few other guys who are able to lead who can be a really good leader so it is just time for some of us to step up and be a leader," he added, noting how the Tigers played at Georgia is "not acceptable."

The redshirt sophomore said, "We realize we that we really let ourselves down and put embarrassing stuff on film. We know we are a lot better than that. That is one thing we know. We are not giving up. We are not thinking we are worse players or anything like that. It is just a matter of us not executing--it's that simple."

Moseley said he knows he needs to improve as a quarterback and added that is a general theme throughout the offense. "It is literally all of us and we will all tell you that," he pointed out.

Defensive line coach Mike Pelton said after Wednesday night's practice that his tackles and ends were physically whipped last week and need to use that as motivation to improve the rest of the season.

"It was like a snowball effect once it started going bad," he said, noting that guys were trying to "over-compensate" and do too much instead of focusing on their individual assignments.

"Nothing went well and we didn't respond well to it,"?he added. "I won't say we didn't know how. We just didn't respond well."

Pelton said that in his opinion he believes the players on defensive front have the type of pride to bounce back from what the coach called an "embarrassing" Saturday and do better.

"If they are the right kind of guys, which they are just like me, when it happens like that and you get embarrassed you have got to come back and fight a little bit harder and you learn from it. That is all you can do.

"They were good," Pelton said of the Georgia offensive line. "They were better than us in some spots and we didn't play well."

In other news and notes:

*Emory Blake has moved into 20th place on Auburn's list for most receiving yards in a career. The junior has 1,125 yards and needs two more to pass Tim Christian (1966-68) to move into 19th place. With 43 yards he can pass Clifton Robinson (1997-2000) for the No. 18 spot on the ranking.

*Going into Saturday's game, Blake is fourth in the SEC in receiving yardage per game with 63.7. Blake said the Tigers need to keep working hard in practice and build confidence for their final two regular season contests at Jordan-Hare Stadium, where the Tigers have won 13 consecutive games.

*Saturday's game will be the first time the Tigers have played Samford since 1993, a 35-7 victory for an Auburn team that did not lose that season. The Tigers lead the overall series 25-0-1 and are 11-0 in games vs. the Bulldogs played at Auburn. The only game in the series not won by the Tigers was a tie in 1927 at Birmingham.

*Steven Clark continues to lead the SEC in punts downed inside the 20-yard line with 27, which ranks him second nationally.

*The Tigers will be playing their 85th Homecoming game this weekend dating back to 1924 when Auburn was a 13-0 winner vs. Clemson. Auburn is 71-8-5 in Homecoming contests and has not lost one since falling 24-17 to Mississippi State in 1991.

*Of the 12 opponents on Auburn's schedule, nine of those teams currently have winning records. The three that don't are Utah State at 3-5, Florida Atlantic at 0-8 and Ole Miss at 2-7.

*Cornerbacks coach Phillip Lolley said that from watching the video of the Georgia game that he believes some of the "back shoulder" passes that the quarterback made were intentional and excellent throws and some other ones were underthrown. Lolley said that Georgia had been having success beating opposing secondaries deep and that Auburn's game plan was to prevent that from happening.

Lolley said the competition for the vacant starting cornerback spot will continue all week to replace T'Sharvan Bell, who is scheduled to have knee surgery on Thursday. Jonathon Mincy, Ryan White and Jermaine Whitehead are competing for first string status and freshman Jonathan Rose could see action at cornerback, too, the coach said.

*Gene Chizik's post-practice comments:


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