Improvement The Focus For 10-1 Tigers

Auburn is focusing on improvement on both sides of the ball during its bye week before the Tigers take on Alabama in the Iron Bowl.

Auburn, Ala.--Three days removed from a last-second win over the Georgia Bulldogs that secured win No. 10 for the Auburn Tigers, they returned to practice Tuesday with a workout in shells with the focus squarely on the Iron Bowl and top-ranked Alabama. Working on correcting mistakes and beginning to take a look at the Crimson Tide, Auburn practiced in full pads for two hours. Senior linebacker Jake Holland said that while they have started peaking at the opponent next week, the first order of business is improving as a team.

"We came back Sunday and had a short practice, mainly corrections," Holland said. "This first week we focused on Auburn, get a visual of what Alabama does. But it's not relaxed I wouldn't say, but it's not real physical right now, that'll come next week."

Coming of an emotional game, having a few days to get their minds right is probably a good thing for a team that has done a good job this year of taking things week-by-week. While he admits this one has been a little different, senior fullback Jay Prosch said there's no doubt the team is already getting familiar with Alabama and starting to look forward at the late game of the season.

I think most everybody, if not the whole team, is already focused on Alabama and put that win in the past," Prosch said. "It was definitely something we can reflect on after the season, after everything is over. Right now I think our minds are kind of on ourselves for this week and kind of a little bit on the next game. I think we're ready to continue moving forward and getting better right now."

Getting prepared to face the most balanced and talented team the Tigers have seen this season, both sides of the ball will need to be clicking on all cylinders to get win number 11. Defensively that means getting ready to take on a physical Alabama team build around running the football and play-action passing. Holland said facing Georgia last Saturday was good prep for the Tigers because of Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley but they need to get better.

"Defense, we really just need to work on our run fits, stopping the run," Holland said. "They have a really good run game. So definitely work on that and really communication. It's going to be loud like it was last week, so we have to get used to that."

Jake Holland

The communication is always a concern on offense and while the home crowd makes it easier to deal with it's still far from a perfect situation when you're running a hurry-up offense. That's something that the Tigers work on constantly and Prosch said even this deep into the season it's a concern.

"We definitely need to work on our communication," Prosch notes. "There are times in the games when we maybe had some calls mixed up and maybe some timing issues and stuff like that. I would say pre-snap type things, alignments and stuff like that. Making sure people know exactly what they're doing and how they need to do it."

With practices scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday and a short walk-through on Friday before giving the team Saturday off, Malzahn remains focused on his goal of keeping the team working everyday to improve. That focus is apparent 24/7 according to Prosch, but he does admit that it's good to see a different side of Malzahn following wins. Letting loose and having fun, the fullback says it's something that makes the team happy to see and it's the goal several more times this season.

He's almost a different person," Prosch said of Malzahn postgame. "In practice and during the game he's definitely zoned in and extremely focused. After a game, after a win, he's high-fiving in the locker room. He's almost like a little kid; so happy. That's awesome for us to see him so happy. It's like a reward for us, like we did something really good. It's awesome after a win to see him in the locker room. I really like it.

"He's really trying to focus on fixing things with ourselves first, just getting things exactly right, he adds of this week. "Stances. Fits. Stuff like that. We're still working on Bama a little bit, but we're mainly trying to get ourselves right. He's still the same coach he's been."

Auburn will face Alabama on Nov. 30 at 2:30 p.m. with the game televised nationally by CBS.

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