Auburn junior defensive end Dee Ford said these are the kind of weeks you look forward to when you play football in the SEC. Facing an LSU team averaging over 260 yards per game on the ground with a stable of physical running backs, Ford noted it's time for the Auburn defense to step up.
"This is what we came to Auburn for," he said. "It's primetime. This is the week where you really forget about the past. This is the time when the great ones come along. The way I'm approaching this week is that everything goes up a notch. Great players have to show up.
"If I'm the player I say I am, then on Saturday I'm going to play physical and on third down still show my presence," he added. "I can show that I'm physical and still rush the passer."
Entering the game 1-2 on the season and nearly a three-touchdown underdog at home, Ford said this is the opportunity for Auburn to put everything behind them and just play football the way an Auburn team is expected to play.
"This is a great chance," he said. "The way we're approaching it we're not trying to remember these last few weeks. We're trying to show that we are Auburn and nothing has changed. We're still playing for championships and trying to play championship football. We've got a perfect chance to show that Saturday."
Gene Chizik On Frazier Dealing With Adversity During Games:
One of the things to watch this week will be how Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier deals with negative plays during the game. Last week Frazier struggled following an interception against ULM, something Chizik said they continue to work on and talk with the first-year starter.
"Well, you're just in constant contact with him and making sure that his body language and everything is right," Chizik said. "The main thing is trying to get him some success early in the game. If you're able to do that, there's something that may happen bad somewhere down the line in the game, but you have to have a very short memory to be good at this position.
"It's about poise and character and confidence, and you can't be shaken. That's easier said than done, when you have everybody telling you how good you are or how bad you are or all of the other things that are out there, but that comes with the job, and he knows that. We've had several discussions on that, and he'll continue to grow."
Running Game Big For Auburn This Week:
Senior running back Onterio McCalebb has seen LSU's defense up close and personal for three years and knows what to expect this Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Facing an opponent that is allowing less than 50 rushing yards per game, McCalebb said it's time for the Auburn offense to step up and make plays.
"LSU always has a great defense and they always will," the tailback said. "That's part of SEC ball. It's going to be great defenses and great offenses. We've just got to go out there this week and have a great week of practice and get ready to step up to the challenge.
"I believe in our offensive line," McCalebb added. "I believe they're going to get the job done and the receivers are going to get the job done and make catches and make blocks downfield, and we're going to have a good game."
After taking Sunday to watch film and meet, Auburn will need three good days of practice this week to get ready for the number two team in the country this weekend. McCalebb said the work week will be exactly that for a team that is hungry to show what its made of.
"Our main focus on Tuesdays is to go out there with full pads and we grind and work hard and be physical from the start of practice to the end of practice," McCalebb said. "Coach Chizik always preaches on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, those days are our work days, those days are our long days, and we've got to go out there and get the job done. Those are the days our game's going to be won on."
Kicking Game Big Again:
LSU features one of the top kicking games in the country including a return game with speedy Odell Beckham Jr. That will mean another strong game from junior punter Steven Clark as Auburn wants to limit the return game for the visitors Saturday night.
Clark said it has been a good performance by the coverage teams through three weeks even though his performance has been spotty. Even though his average still remains very good, Clark said it's about making solid contact and hitting the ball the way he wants.
"As a team, it hasn't been bad," Clark said. "I feel like I could have done a lot better the last few games, but my coverage has been outstanding, and the blocking has been pretty well covered, in that regard so I feel I'm going to come around here pretty soon. It's kind of frustrating going through practice all week and punt as well as I have been, then going into the game and not performing as well as I could. That's something I'm definitely looking forward to this weekend, going out there and doing as well as I can."
One thing that Clark said he's looking forward to this weekend is being back in the front of the home fans for a night game in Jordan-Hare Stadium. While Auburn may go into the game as a decided underdog, Clark said having the Auburn fans in their corner means a lot to them.
"I mean, it's definitely one of those things where we have the best fans in the nation, I believe, and they seem like they always pick it up and try to make it so they can't hear what play is called," Clark said. "Hopefully the advantage is huge in an SEC matchup like this. It's a football atmosphere, it's what you're expecting from the SEC, for sure, and hopefully we give the fans a good game."