All-SEC junior defensive end Corey Lemonier said he liked what he saw from his team, which goes into the game as a major underdog to LSU. "It was a really good practice," he said. "Everybody was focused and really dialed into working at getting better. Everybody was on point at practice."
If the Tigers needed any extra motivation for Saturday's SEC West rivalry game, comments from an LSU player after last year's game questioning the physicality of the Auburn team did the trick.
"It is a new year, we are going to come at them hard," Lemonier said. "We are going to come out firing on all cylinders this week."
Lemonier said he had not heard the comments until being told about them by the Auburn coaches and other players this week. "It is huge disrespect to us and what we stand for," Lemonier said. "We are just going to use that as momentum going in."
Lemonier noted he is impressed with what he has seen on video of the 3-0 Tigers.
"They have some really good running backs," Lemonier said. "That is where they get their offense from. The quarterback is really good. He can throw the ball and offensive is really big and physical."
Tuesday night's practice featured the first team offense and first team defense working against the scout teams and there were also periods featuring the one offense vs. the one defense. Junior safety Demetruce McNeal said he thought the defense got plenty accomplished in the session.
McNeal also noted that he heard about the disrespectful comments from LSU about last year's loss and said that was surprising because he didn't see anybody on his team backing down physically.
"The only reason I believe those guys say things like that was because of the outcome and the score," McNeal said. "I wouldn't say that we played soft. If we had played soft they would have probably scored every play. They went down, some of our players went down. It is just football man. People are going to be people and they just are going to talk after the outcome of a game. It doesn't affect us man. We are just getting ready for Saturday. Whatever happens Saturday just happens. We are going to be well prepared for it. "
On the other side of the line of scrimmage, offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler gave the practice session a thumbs up. "There was good intensity," he said. "I thought we executed some things quite well today. They are excited to play. This is a great challenge, a great rivalry. It is a wonderful thing to get them in our stadium."
Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said he saw signs of improvement in week three after grading the game video, but noted that the defense is still too inconsistent.
The coach pointed out that his defense is in for a different type of assignment facing a power style offense from LSU instead of the spread offenses the Tigers played in games one, two and three. The Tigers are likely to play more of their 4-3 base front instead of using nickel packages. That means more action for more linebackers.
VanGorder said he expects true freshman middle linebacker Cassanova McKinzy to see more playing time. VanGorder noted that McKinzy is now running second team behind Jake Holland and is ahead of senior Ashton Richardson. "I think you will see Cassanova play quite a bit," the coach said. "Obviously, Johnny Evans (Jonathan Evans) and Justin Garrett will get some playing time."
Another linebacker, redshirt Kris Frost, is still in a learning phase and won't likely see much action this week, VanGorder said. "He is learning--still a lot of work to do there. We are hopeful there are a couple of calls there schematically he can gain a comfort with and give us some reps."
"We would like to get at least another safety involved," added VanGorder, who noted that sophomore Erique Florence has been making progress in practice. Another possibility for playing time at safety is former starter Ryan Smith.
"This is a totally different game in respect to an offensive scheme," said VanGorder, noting the Tigers need their defensive tackles to step up and have a strong game in week four after showing signs of improvement in the ULM game.
More on Auburn vs. LSU...
Chizik Vs. LSU, Miles vs. AU: Auburn head coach Gene Chizik has a 1-2 record vs. the Bayou Bengals, losing twice in Baton Rouge and winning the matchup at Jordan-Hare Stadium in 2010. LSU head coach Les Miles is 5-2 vs. Auburn and has a 78-18 record in eight seasons in Baton Rouge.
Special Teams: Both Auburn and LSU have been very good in this area through three games. Senior Onterio McCalebb leads the SEC in kickoff return average at 40.5 yards. Junior Cody Parkey leads the league in field goal percentage. He is 6-6 through three games.
Auburn is ranked No. 1 in the league in kickoff coverage and kickoff returns. LSU is third in kickoff coverage and second in kickoff returns. Chizik said that LSU's coverage teams are impressive, noting it will be a challenge for his squad to match up with the Bayou Bengals on special teams this week.
Feasting On Mistakes: Auburn heads into the LSU game ranked 13th of 14 SEC teams in turnover margin at minus 2.33 per game. Only Arkansas at minus 2.67 is worse.
The following statistic emphasizes the need for Auburn to reduce mistakes: LSU has been chewing up opponents who are mistake prone with 22 consecutive victories in games in which the other team has more turnovers than the Bayou Bengals.
Good Player, Good Guy: Senior Philip Lutzenkirchen is one of 11 players named to the national National Football Coaches Association's Good Works Team on Tuesday for his community service work. He is currently third in Auburn history in receiving yards for a tight end with 588 trailing Cooper Wallace (829) and Robert Johnson (741).
Lutzenkirchen has taken on visiting and supporting children with cancer as his personal mission and involved teammates in the project.
TV And Radio: Kickoff time for Saturday's game is 6 p.m. CDT with coverage on ESPN TV. ESPN will also have national radio coverage of the contest in addition to the radio broadcast by The Auburn Network. The AU Network coverage is also available on Sirius Channel 138 and XM 200.