Auburn Wraps Up Prep For Texas A&M

Auburn got a show of support from students and fans as the Tigers finished up preparations for Texas A&M.

Auburn, Ala.—The Auburn Tigers put the finishing touches on the gameplan for Saturday night's game against Texas A&M with a practice Thursday night inside the indoor facility. Following the practice coach Gene Chizik and the players had a surprise waiting for them as a large group of students and fans formed a mini-Tiger Walk leading the players into the athletic complex. Chizik said it was a special moment for both he and the team as they look to get back on the winning track this Saturday night.

"I thought it was outstanding," Chizik said. "I think it kind of caught our players by surprise. We were in the indoor and had the doors closed. We had heard that they were rallying a group together that would be a mixture of students and some people from the community. I would have to say there were several hundred out there. It was outstanding, it really was.

"I think the players really appreciated it and I know I did. Just to see our guys faces when they saw how many people were out there, I think they were a little taken aback. I think that goes back to the Auburn spirit and the Auburn pride and them showing that even though we've struggled and it hasn't been what they want they are behind Auburn and they are All In all the time."

Auburn fans show up to support the Tigers

Chizik also announced Thursday night that junior Clint Moseley would once again be the starter for the Tigers; keeping the job he's had each of the last two games. This season he has completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 373 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions. Auburn is also expected to continue to use true freshman Jonathan Wallace in a limited role. He has 35 rushing yards this season and has completed his only pass attempt for 11 yards.

"It's going to be the same as last week," Chizik said on his weekly Tiger Talk appearance. "We're going to start Clint. Going through the week we don't want to jump to any conclusions on who can be the guy. We know that question mark is still out there with 'is Kiehl healthy?'. He's not 100 percent yet. I would say he's somewhere around 80. He's continuing to work and is getting better, but Clint did a nice job in practice and that's who we're going with."

Forcing Turnovers A Must

Facing one of the top offensive units in the country this weekend, Auburn's defense must force turnovers to get the ball back to a struggling offense in good field position several times on Saturday night. Averaging 524.6 yards of total offense per game, the Aggies have scored 48 or more points four times this season and at least 17 points in every game. Sophomore cornerback Jonathon Mincy said against a team that has turned it over 14 times this season, creating those opportunities is a big part of the gameplan for Saturday.

"We work on that every day in practice," Mincy said. "It's something that we challenge each other to do every day in practice, and definitely if you do it in practice, it's going to happen in the game. It's definitely a momentum-changer for our offense to get on the field and make something happen."

Johnny Football

A key to creating turnovers will be to force the Aggies into third and long situations and put the pressure on redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel. That's easier said than done as the speedster leads the team in rushing at 100.4 yards per game in addition to averaging 279.4 passing yards per contest. Sophomore defensive tackle Angelo Blackson said keeping Manziel in the pocket is a must for the Tigers.

"Just trying to contain him," Blackson said is the toughest thing about playing someone line Manziel. "Guys that make plays outside the pocket, they're the hardest on the defensive line. We've got to try to keep him in the pocket and make him throw the ball instead of beating us with his feet."

Aggies Playing Fast

Playing their own brand of hurry up offense, the Aggies enter Saturday night's game having run 554 plays this season in seven games. That's an average of nearly 80 plays per game. Because of that getting off the field on third down is going to be huge for Auburn's defense, but so will handling that pace of play.

With freshman linebacker Cassanova McKinzy in charge of the defense on early downs and Jake Holland likely on the field for third down or long yardage situations, linebacker coach Tommy Thigpen said handling the pace of play is one of the toughest things for a defense facing an offense like Texas A&M.

"It has to be fast," Thigpen said of the defensive recognition. "They are snapping the ball like every 12 seconds. We have to keep fresh guys in. There has to be a thought process right before you get lined up. One minute they are in the spread and one minute they are in a two-by-two, three-by-one, or unbalanced. They have a multitude of formations. That makes you think on the run. There is only so much you can do with on defense with a team that runs up that fast and snaps the ball. Our guys just have to be patient and taking mental notes and play the game as fast as they can in their heads.

"You have to because as soon as you turn your back and get the huddle called it's even faster than what Gus had a couple of years ago. Just watching the teams like LSU and Arkansas are still looking to the sideline when the ball is snapped, so it's fast-paced. You can never emulate that speed in practice, but we're trying our best to get that down. Our kids are coming in and watching tape and trying to flip through the screen as fast as they can with the calls."

Television 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.

Auburn Radio Network: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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