Tigers Finishing Preparations For Cougars

The Auburn football Tigers continue to work on the game plan for Saturday night's season opener.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn football Tigers spent Thursday in team meetings before hitting the practice field for a workout in shorts rehearsing the game plan for Saturday night's opener vs. Washington State.

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CDT and the game will be televised on ESPNU.

The Tigers will have more meetings on Friday and a walk-through of the game plan for Auburn's second-ever contest vs. the Cougars from the PAC-12. Washington State visited Jordan-Hare Stadium for the 2006 opener and fell 40-14.

This year the Tigers head into the game in good shape physically on the offensive side of the ball, but will be missing several players on defense and there are others who have not been full speed in preseason drills.

Definitely out for Saturday's game are defensive ends Dee Ford and Keymiya Harrell. Both are recovering from knee injuries. Malzahn said he isn't sure when either player will be cleared.

Harrell had ACL surgery in the spring. Ford, a second team preseason All-SEC selection, was injured in the second preseason scrimmage and has not practiced since then. He has not had surgery.

A defender who did have surgery is sophomore cornerback Jonathan Jones, who is likely to miss the entire 2012 season. He played last season as a true freshman so he is likely to redshirt and retain three full seasons of eligibility. Jones suffered a broken bone in his ankle when he slipped on wet steps.

Defensive end Nosa Egaue, who has more starts than any player on the roster, has missed practice time and is not scheduled to start vs. the Cougars.

Another senior defensive lineman, Jeffrey Whitaker, has also missed practice time and is questionable for the opener. In the depth chart that Coach Gus Malzahn announced on Thursday, Whitaker is listed co-number one for the opener along with junior Gabe Wright.

In other news and notes:

*Following practice Malzahn resumed a Thursday night tradition for AU head football coaches by taking live questions from fans on the Tiger Talk Radio show with host Rod Bramlett. Malzahn received cheers as the spent an hour in front of a live crowd at a local restaurant. Former head coach Gene Chizik opted out of doing the live shows.

Bramlett (left) and Malzahn are shown at Thursday night's Tiger Talk.

While Malzahn didn't say anything out of ordinary regarding game strategy, in response to a question he said that his philosophy is not to go conservative on offense to protect a lead. "When we get a chance to put a fork in them we will do it,"?he said.

*The coach also had high praise for true freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson from Carver High in Montgomery. He said that the six-foot-five, 219-pounder has an NFL caliber arm and is faster than the AU coaches realized when they signed him.

*Saturday's game will be televised on ESPNU and the Auburn Network's radio broadcast is being carried on XM channel 201.

Locally in the Auburn area the radio broadcast is on 94.3 FM. Because that station is high definition fans in the stadium listening on radios will notice a significant delay between what is happening on the field and when they hear play-by-play man Bramlett's call of the action.

*The gates will open at Jordan-Hare Stadium at 3:30 p.m. Saturday for fans who need extra time to get to their seats. There will be one gate open on both the east and west side of the stadium for the early arrivals. All gates will open at 4 p.m.

*Auburn officials are suggesting that fans arrive earlier than normal at the stadium with Saturday's game being the first in which the Tigers have used their barcode ticket system.

*New for 2013 will be 20 water stations throughout the stadium. Fans are allowed to bring an empty water container into the stadium to fill on what is expected to be a warm and humid evening. There is no charge for water. Auburn fans have complained about concessions vendors charging $4 per bottle of water in recent seasons.

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