Tigers Tweaking On Defense And Offense

A report on Auburn's preparations for the Arkansas football game is featured with comments from players and coaches.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers put on the full pads after the rain broke and enjoyed the brisk fall weather during a two-hour workout on Tuesday night in preparation for Saturday's home game vs. Arkansas.

All-SEC end Corey Lemonier said he thought it was a productive session for the defense, continuing the theme established last week when the Tigers had three practices but no game.

"I think it was a good day," he said. "We fine-tuned and did some new plays, especially on the defensive side we did a lot of new plays. We just have to wait for it on Saturday.

"I think we have been doing a really good job practicing and keeping the momentum up and having that attitude," he said of his team's second week of preparation to play Arkansas.

Attacking quarterback Tyler Wilson will be a key to success this Saturday, Lemonier said. "We have got to get the heat on him really fast and get him startled at the beginning of the game. That will just affect the whole game.

"I have seen a lot of teams that have done it, especially Texas A&M, a lot like Louisiana-Monroe had done that," Lemonier added. "They did a really good job of that so we just need to do that."

In Auburn's 12-10 loss to LSU, the Tigers lined up Lemonier as a linebacker at times. "It was fun," he said, noting that is something he did not do prior to playing college football. "We have more to come. It is going to be exciting to watch. I am just ready."

Lemonier said it "is huge" for the Tigers to pressure Wilson this week. "I am tired of losing," he said. "For me personally, I just want to get a win."

Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said he is expecting an improved performance out of the offense in general, and quarterback Kiehl Frazier in particular, for the 1-3 Auburn team.

"We spent time studying Kiehl and making improvements where we needed to make improvements," Loeffler said of the off-week. "It came at the right time. We needed it. I think we made some strides."

The offensive coordinator and quarterback coach pointed out he is already seeing improvements in Frazier in practice this week, a trend he predicts will continue throughout the season.

Head coach Gene Chizik, as well as Loeffler and the other offensive coaches, have challenged the wide receivers to step up their performance level. With Quan Bray suspended this week, Loeffler said that sophomore Trovon Reed and freshman Ricardo Louis are competing for playing time at Bray's spot.

Louis has been a standout on special teams this year. Reed was expected to push for a starting job, but has not played much since the opener. Loeffler said he is seeing signs of progress from Reed. "He has improved in his route-running ability. He needs to make plays on a consistent basis, but he has improved and is working in that direction."

Looking at the big picture with his struggling offense, Loeffler said that the three major areas of concern have been the lack of production in the fourth quarter, too many turnovers and failure to punch in scoring opportunities for touchdowns in the red zone. He noted some small improvements can make a big difference.

"These games come down to one or two plays in a game," the coach said. "If you go back and look at the LSU game, if we convert on two or three plays it is a different deal. The fine details have got to occur on every single play because you never know when those two or three plays are going to occur in a game that will make you or break you for winning or losing."

Junior Dee Ford said the defensive line has been using its extra week of preparation to become a more smoothly functioning unit. "We are working on finishing, doing your job, communicating--the little things that are very vital for us."

Asked what the front four on defense needs to do to play better in October than it did in September, the end said, "Just take the passion and attitude to another level. We made significant strides vs. LSU and we just want to take it to another level against Arkansas.

Dee Ford

"It makes a huge difference," he noted. "I am pretty sure you hear a lot that ‘it starts up front,' and that is basically how it is.' If they see us playing with a lot of passion, and it is important to us, and we are getting off on the rock and playing nasty, it is going to affect the whole defense. They are going to see that and you are going to see 13 on the field like you saw against LSU."

Tyler Time: Arkansas has just one win in five games, but in the four games Tyler Wilson has played this season the junior quarterback has put up strong numbers. In addition to leading all college players with his average of 17.15 yards per pass completion, the quarterback's average of 8.84 yards per play ranks sixth nationally. For his career he is averaging 7.38 yards per play, better than any current player in the SEC.

Tyler Wilson will be making his second appearance at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Two years ago he came off the bench and performed well in his team's 65-43 loss.

Tyler Two: Wilson, the holder of a dozen Arkansas offensive records, goes into the game with 40 career touchdown passes and 5,733 passing yards. He leads the SEC and is seventh nationally this week in passing yards per game at 338.0.

Auburn QBs: Loeffler said that freshman Jonathan Wallace's role is as a "situational package" player, noting that junior Clint Moseley is still the No. 2 QB on the depth chart behind Frazier.

Game Time: Kickoff is set for shortly after 11 a.m. CDT at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn coach Gene Chizik is asking AU fans to show up and make a difference for the morning game. The Tigers have a 6-2 record in the Chizik Era when playing in games with morning kickoffs.

TV Coverage: Beth Mowins will do play-by-play with Joey Gallaway handling the analysis and Tom Luginbill the sideline reporter for ESPN2.

Hawgs vs. Tigers: Auburn leads the series 11-9-1, but Arkansas has won four of the last six matchups and the teams are 5-5 in the past 10 seasons. Auburn has a 5-3-1 vs. the Razorbacks in games played at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Good Day: Saturday's contest will mark the 14th time Auburn has played a football game on Oct. 6th. The Tigers are 11-3 all-time in those contests. The last loss on Oct. 6th was 20-0 to Mississippi State in 1945. Since then the Tigers have won eight consecutive games on that date.

G-Day, Mate: PGA star Jason Dufner is back in Auburn after a strong showing for Team USA in the Ryder Cup. The former AU golfer attended Tuesday night's practice and told Inside the Auburn Tigers that he appreciates all of the support he has received from the Auburn Family. Dufner plans to take a couple weeks off from competition before heading to Australia to play a tournament in Perth.

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