VanGorder Impressed With Aggies

Comments from players and coaches are featured as the Tigers returned to the practice field as they put in the game plan for a home contest vs. Texas A&M.

Auburn, Ala.--After taking Monday off the Auburn football Tigers pushed preparations for Saturday night's home contest vs. into high gear with a two-hour workout that featured a fast-paced evening for the defense and work on assignments for the offense.

Brian VanGorder, Auburn's first-year defensive coordinator, watched his players try to cope with the short time between plays the Aggies like to attack opponents with in game situations. To simulate that speed, two separate offense groups with separate huddles drilled against the defense.

VanGorder noted the Tigers made some progress, but noted they still have a long way to go considering how well the Aggies run their system and how productive they have been. "It was pretty good," he said about the practice and dealing with a hurry-up, no-huddle style of play. "I thought overall the guys did a respectable job. Tomorrow we will get better."

Coming into Saturday's 6 p.m. contest the Aggies, who are 5-2 overall, are leading the Southeastern Conference in total offense (524.6 yards per contest) and rushing offense (221.3) under the direction of redshirt freshman quarter Johnny Manziel, who is leading the league in individual total yards per game with a truly impressive 379.9 yards average.

Manziel has been personally accounting for 20.6 of Texas A&M's SEC-best average of 43 points per contest. As a team the Tigers are averaging just 15.7 points per outing.

"I think the biggest concern is tempo," VanGorder said of the Aggies' offense. "They are so fast. The thing about being so fast, it takes a (defensive) player so much out of his routine, especially in our situation. In spring ball we had a huddle offense and didn't see that on a regular basis, but it is a problem for anybody and that is why they have had so much success.

"They limit your package somewhat," the coach added. "The main thing is players have got to quickly recognize. They are used to being able to take their time and see a lot."

Brian VanGorder

VanGorder had high praise for Manziel, pointing out that the young QB is the Aggies' leading rusher in addition to being dangerous as a passer. "He is extremely problematic," the coach said. "They have designed an offense to take advantage of a lot of things with him."

Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said that Texas A&M will bring aggressive, complex blitz packages to Jordan-Hare Stadium to try to shut down the Auburn offense. He noted the Aggies are very good at attacking pass blocking schemes.

One of the guys who will have a major role in protecting the passer, fullback Jay Prosch, said, "We worked on our technique a lot and just getting to the right guys, blocking the right people."

The junior noted that the other theme on offense for Tuesday night was improving the execution with both the running and passing game. "Everybody was ready to get out and work so we got a lot done," he said.

With the Tigers trying to snap a three-game losing streak and earn their first SEC win of the season, Prosch admitted it isn't easy dealing with the fact his team has a 1-6 record.

"It's a grind and I think everybody is a little down--it is almost impossible not to be," the fullback said. "I think you have to stay positive and even though some people may think that is stupid, or that's impossible, it is not about that. We are in this together. We have no other choice except to be positive and look forward, so that is what we are trying to do."

Top Tackler: After having his least productive game of the season in terms of tackles made, Daren Bates is down to 10.6 per contest, which ranks second in the SEC and 12th nationally.

Starts Leaders: Bates, a senior who has started since his freshman year when he played safety before moving to linebacker as a sophomore, has 43 career starts, 17 more than the No. 2 Tiger in that category for this year's team, junior end Nosa Eguae, who has 26 starts.

Lutz to Like: Number three on Auburn's start list among players on the 2012 roster, senior tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, will finish his AU career stuck at 23. He is scheduled to have hip surgery this week and will miss the rest of the season to repair an injury suffered in preseason that he has been trying to play through.

Head coach Gene Chizik had high praise for the tight end on Tuesday, noting that the senior did his best to play through the painful injury. Chizik also noted that Lutzenkirchen, who is finishing his college career first in touchdown catches among Auburn tight ends with 14, is respected for his community service as well as his football skills. The coach said he believes the six-foot-five tight end will get a chance to play in the NFL after he recovers from the injury.

Freshman QB: Jonathan Wallace said after practice he is having no problems learning his assignments as he is given more responsibilities in the Auburn offense. He threw his first college pass against Vandy and completed it to fellow freshman Ricardo Louis. The freshman QB from Central High in Phenix City said his focus this week has been on ball security after having issues with fumbles in game situations.

Jonathan Wallace

Military Appreciation Day: The armed services will be honored on Saturday as the Tigers take on Texas A&M. Auburn's players will wear a decal on their helmet created for the occasion and the coaching staff will wear the decal on their sleeves. At the pre-game coin toss members of the Wounded Warrior Project will join the team captains for the coin toss, which will feature a Soldier Silver Dollar coin from the National Infantry Museum in Fort Benning, Ga.

The Auburn Band will do a military tribute show and will play American Salute, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy plus Stars And Stripes Forever. There will be a flyover of four F-16 jets. One will be piloted by Auburn graduate Drew "Snapper" Lehman and another by Texas A&M?grad Mike "Midnight" Rose. They are part of the 15th Fighter Squadron (the Swamp Foxes) from the McEntire Joint National Guard Base in South Carolina.

Weather-permitting a U.S. Special Operations Command parachute team will perform a free fall demonstration at halftime.

Auburn ROTC students will lead the Tiger Walk and there will be a display of vintage military vehicles on the Dawson Lawn and the Quad in front of the Auburn Arena. The 1/117 Field Artillery Slate Cannon Team will be at the game from the Alabama National Guard.

Tigers Vs. Aggies: Saturday's matchup will be just the third all-time in football between the programs. Texas A&M won a 16-0 decision in Dallas back in 1911 and won 36-16 in the same city in the 1986 Cotton Bowl game to conclude the 1985 season.

TV Coverage: ESPNU will provide the telecast for the 6 p.m. CDT contest at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Clay Matvick will do the play-by-play, Matt Stinchcomb is the analyst and Allison Williams is the sideline reporter.

On the Radio: The Auburn Network coverage featuring Rod Bramblett, Stan White, Quentin Riggins, Paul Ellen and Andy Burcham can be heard on Sirius Channel 94 or XM 201.

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