Tigers Tune Up for Arkansas State Game

The Auburn football Tigers continued their on-the-field preparations for game two against Arkansas State's Red Wolves.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn tuned up for Saturday night's home football game vs. Gus Malzahn's old team with a 90-minute workout in shorts rehearsing the game plan before facing the Arkansas State Red Wolves.

In 17 previous matchups, including two vs. Arkansas State, the Tigers have never lost to a team from the Sun Belt Conference.

Malzahn and his new Auburn staff, which includes offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and offensive line coach J.B. Grimes who were on Malzahn's 2012 staff are Arkansas State, are trying to keep that streak alive.

The Red Wolves have a streak of their own with nine consecutive wins, the second longest in the FBS (Division I-A) level behind Ohio State.

Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CDT at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The game is not a sellout and it will be televised on Fox Sports Net.

The Tigers opened the season with three projected defensive starters out with injuries. Malzahn said there is a possibility that end Dee Ford and "star" rover linebacker Justin Garrett will see action vs. the Red Wolves. Tackle Jeffrey Whitaker, who had a knee scoped prior to the opener, is not expected back until closer to midseason.

Nosa Eguae, who is tied with Ford for the team lead for most games played in his AU career with 40, saw action in a reserve role on opening night, which is unusual for the defensive end. Eguae still has the team lead in career starts with 31, seven more than runnerup Reese Dismukes, the junior center.

Eguae pointed out that he hopes that Ford and Garrett will be able to contribute as soon as Saturday night. "I am not a trainer but I can definitely tell they are both getting close to helping us win football games again," the senior said. "I know they are competing every single day to get there..they are doing everything they can do to get back on that field."

After playing in a game in which Washington State threw the football 65 times last week, Eguae is expecting more action on the ground from Arkansas State.

"I feel like it's back to more of the offenses we are used to seeing," he said. "The offense that Washington State runs is something we don't see a lot in the SEC. It's going to be fun and we are definitely looking forward to it up front."

Eguae said from what he has seen on video of the Red Wolves on offense there are similarities to what Auburn is doing this year, but there are also differences, too, with new head coach Bryan Harsin keeping part of the Malzahn system and adding his own touches from his days as an offensive coordinator at Boise State and Texas.

The defensive end said that the Tigers realize they need to make improvements on defense in game two, but added he saw some things to be encouraged about in game one. "It was just great to go out there and make the changes we needed to make and hold a team that has a really good offense to three points in the second half," the senior said. "We definitely know we have to continue to get better."

In other news and notes:

*Auburn officials said on Thursday that Saturday's Tiger Walk will start at 4:10 p.m. Kickoff for the game is 6:30 p.m

*Fans attending the game at Jordan-Hare Stadium should be more comfortable weather-wise based on the current forecast. The temperature at kickoff time is expected to be in the low 80s with much lower humidity than last Saturday night.

*Fans attending the contest will be able to see pre-game ceremonies honoring the 1988 SEC champion Tigers and another one honoring former Auburn defensive back Zac Etheridge with the James Owens Courage Award.

Etheridge, who is a defensive backs coach at Georgia Tech, overcame a serious neck/spine injury in a game vs. Ole Miss and returned to play for the 2010 national championship Tigers.

"Zac displayed an outstanding courage and perseverance to get through the rehab because the odds were greatly stacked against him, and yet he rehabbed as hard as he could every day and never lost faith that he would get back on the football field," said Dr. Michael Goodlett, who is Auburn's team physician.

Zac Etheridge

Etheridge pointed out that on the comeback trail he got a lot of help along with the way. "I couldn't have done it alone without the support of the Auburn Family and my family and friends," he said. "Standing back on the field was a relief that I got a chance to do what I love to do and that's to play the game, run around and hit people.

"The adversity I faced and overcame was just a blessing and it touched a lot of people," Etheridge added. "I'm ecstatic and honored to be a recipient of this award. I'm just blessed to be able to walk and share my story." he said.

After spending the 2011 season with the NFL's Oakland Raiders after signing with a free agent, he retired as a player and took a job as a graduate assistant coach for former AU defensive coordinator Ted Roof at Penn State and has since followed Roof to Georgia Tech.

*Malzahn said on Thursday night that freshman wide receiver Tony Stevens is expected to see action in game two. Stevens, who suffered a preseason hamstring problem, was held out of the opener.

*Bob Rathbun will do play-by-play and Tim Couch will be the analyst for the Auburn-Arkansas State on Fox Sports Net.

*The Auburn Network's call of the game will be available on Sirius Radio Channel 136.

*Arkansas State will play two teams from the state of Alabama in one week with the Red Wolves playing host to Troy next Thursday night to begin league play. Auburn is the only team from a BCS conference on Arkansas States schedule this year. Last season the Red Wolves played Oregon and Nebraska.

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