"I think it is big," the defensive coordinator says. "We haven't really played any preseason games. They have been good solid games, good solid opponents. We have had to work hard each game to compete."
Auburn is coming off a 12-10 loss to an LSU team that arrived at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night averaging close to 50 points per with a No. 2 national ranking. LSU scored two points on a safety and three points were set up by a fumbled punt mishandled by Quan Bray. The other seven points came with the help of good field position following the safety.
VanGorder says he saw improvement in his group, but without a doubt the coach is not pleased. "We played faster, but we have a long ways to go," he says.
Auburn's head coach, Gene Chizik, is giving his players two days off from practice after the LSU game. The Tigers will return to the practice field on Tuesday evening. VanGorder says that makes sense and he says not having a game this week can be helpful. "The off week probably comes at a good time after a physical game," the defensive coordinator says.
"It is probably a good week to take a look at ourselves and re-evaluate and see what has happened the first four weeks and keep looking to get better," the coach adds.
Against LSU the Tigers rotated more players into the lineup on defense than they did in the first three games. Freshman Josh Holsey made his cornerback debut and a pair of sophomore defensive backs, Erique Florence and Robenson Therezie, figured prominently into the game plan for the first time this year. VanGorder says to expect that trend to continue.
Josh Holsey is from Creekside High in Fairburn, Ga., where he was a football and track standout.
"It is important we get a lot of guys coming along and contributing," he says.
While Auburn takes the week off, its next opponent will travel to College Station to play new SEC member Texas A&M, an opponent the Razorbacks know well from recent matchups as well as previously being in the old Southwest Conference before Texas A&M joined the Big 12 and Arkansas moved to the SEC.
Kickoff time for the Arkansas at Auburn game has been set for 11 a.m. and it will be televised on either ESPN?or ESPN2.