Tigers Dealing With Lack Of Success

Auburn coach Gene Chizik and veterans Nosa Eguae and Philip Lutzenkirchen discuss dealing with negative talk.

Auburn, Ala.—Dealing with distractions is something that comes along with the territory of playing major college football. In 2010 it was a distraction for the Auburn Tigers because everyone talked about the success of the team and what the future held throughout the year, but this time around it's a much different story for coach Gene Chizik's team.

Sitting at 1-5 and a big underdog on the road at 2-4 Vanderbilt this Saturday, Auburn's fortunes have changed dramatically in less than two years. That has the talk coming from every direction, and while it would be hard to ignore, Chizik said that's what this team has to try to do in order to make improvements on the field and see the wins start to come.

"When they leave the building they're going to read and hear everything out there and we're not going to be able to control that," Chizik said. "It all comes down to the way you process that mentally. You have to be strong enough to be able to block out the positives when they're telling you how great you are because you're never that great. You have to be able to block out the negatives when they tell you how bad you are because you're never that bad. That's the message that I give to our team on a daily basis."

The talk isn't coming from just fans on message boards and rivals looking to make things worse, even former coach Pat Dye was critical of the team and the play of the quarterbacks so far this season. Asked about the comments Chizik said his only concern is handling his duties everyday and getting the team better.

"Coach Dye was a tremendous football coach, and I've got a lot of respect for coach Dye, without question," Chizik said. "I can't spend a lot of time and energy in deliberation about what somebody said, whether it was coach Dye or whether it was an alumni from 1968 that nobody knows who he or she is. I just don't have an opinion on that. My day when I walkt through the door consists of my coaches and my players and the direction that we're headed.

"If I concerned myself with all of that, then that would suck the energy and the life out of me trying to do a job that I know I've got to stay concentrating on one thing, trying to keep my coaches and my players on the path of improvement. I've got a high level of respect for coach Dye. I'm not really sure what you're talking about, heard what you said, respect what you said, but I can't spend my time one way or the other with that type of stuff."

As two of the veteran leaders for the Tigers, junior defensive end Nosa Eguae and senior tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen have seen the good and bad in their time on the Plains. Asked how he deals with the negative talk coming out at the moment, Eguae said it's just like the positives that came in 2010, he ignores it.

"It's funny, when you're undefeated you get the positive noise and if you listen to it you're probably not as good as people say that you are," Eguae said. "And when you hear the negative it's probably not as bad as people say that you are. It comes really in that full-circle sense. For me, I've learned that you really can't listen to it. It's all about you going out there day after day and working, and eventually, you're going to get the glorification if you deserve it. You've just got to keep working and that's what it's about, and it's about going out there and executing the things that Coach preaches to us every single day."

Faced with the challenge of trying to win five out of six games to finish the season just to get bowl eligible, Auburn must start that off the right way this Saturday by getting a win over the Commodores. With the problems in the fourth quarter this season haunting the Tigers on both sides of the ball, Lutzenkirchen said it's just a matter of finishing games and that needs to start immediately.

"I'd be lying if I said we weren't disappointed and frustrated," Lutzenkirchen said. "I think this past week, we fought as hard as we fought all year. We just didn't get any good breaks for us. We got the long return there in the fourth quarter to get the field position and then we threw an interception. It's been like that all year where we're shooting ourselves in the foot. I feel like we've been in just about every game until a point when bad things have happened. We've got to figure out how to get past that in the game. This team will continue to fight. I have no doubt about that. We really need a win. That would boost everyone's confidence. We can start to roll and make some progress after that."

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