No. 6 Tigers "trying to keep getting better"

Auburn continued its work for Alabama during the bye week with a two-hour practice on Wednesday.

Auburn, Ala.--Coming down from last Saturday's emotional 43-38 win over the Georgia Bulldogs, the Auburn Tigers continued to work towards the Iron Bowl game against Alabama next Saturday with a two-hour practice in full pads on Wednesday. Getting ready to face another talented offensive team in Alabama after dealing with Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs last week, defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said that for his team this week is all about getting better.

"It's been good," Johnson said. "We've worked on a lot of the things that we were not good last game, and not really been good over the last several weeks. We're just trying to keep better at what we do. When we've been working these schemes, we've obviously been doing Alabama's formations instead of working on things we're never going to see.

"We've gotten a little bit of work on Alabama, but at this point, we've had two good relatively short practices with intense good work with the offense, doing some situations of good against good. We've probably gotten about 30 minutes of Alabama a day. We'll do the same thing pretty much tomorrow, but not really deeply planning into any kind of game-planning. It's been a good week. We've tried to make sure not to get anybody hurt. Guys who are a little bit worn down or nicked up have been held out some."

One of the areas with the most improvement in the win over Georgia was at the linebacker position. Senior Jake Holland had a solid game with six tackles while Cassanova McKinzy chipped in with several big plays as well. While it's still not perfect, Johnson said it was probably the best game for his guys all season long.

"Jake probably had more tackles than he's had," Johnson said. "He had two pass breakups that were crucial down near the goal line. And we all thought we'd stopped him down there on the goal line and he was certainly the primary hitter on that. He played very well. He had three very obvious missed tackles, one of them was in the open field that was very obvious, but he played very consistently. The linebacking crew as a whole had probably the most consistent game. But we all as a team had a break down here or there, including the linebackers that led to some drives."

Offensively the focus continues on being more balanced and that means the passing game. One of the top running teams in the country, Auburn's offense had a better game throwing it against Georgia with big plays by both Ricardo Louis and Sammie Coates, and Lashlee said it can still be much, much better.

"As always we missed some that we can't miss," Lashlee said. "It's still that process of trying to be as efficient as we want to be but we hit some big ones too. We hit Ricardo on the third down down the middle of the field; we hit Sammie to open the second half, those plays led to a touchdown drive. We hit Sammie early on the first touchdown drive on a play-action, that gives us a touchdown drive, we're getting there but then we have a third down here, a third-and-goal here where we got to convert. We're getting there and we're just going to keep working."

Rhett Lashlee

Focused on the next game all season long has kept the Tigers from looking ahead, but now there is no more concern about that. With one shot to make it to Atlanta and the SEC Championship Game all that stands in their way is top-ranked and undefeated Alabama. Lashlee said for a team that has beaten the odds all season long it's the perfect chance to finish off the regular season.

"We can finally talk about it," Lashlee said. "We don't have to say ‘oh we're worried about the next game'. We have been building week-to-week obviously for the next game. It has worked for our guys. They have done a great job of buying into that and focusing in. That's easier said than done, but we play Alabama and they play us at the end of the year for a reason. It all builds up to this every year. That was our goal at the beginning of the year, to get better each week so when this game came we would be ready to put the best we can out on the field. We're ready to do that now."

Prosch Enjoying Success For Tigers

Auburn's running game has really taken off this season under the guidance of Marshall at quarterback, but one of the other reasons has been the improvement of fullback Jay Prosch. A physical blocker that Malzahn has called one of the best he's ever seen, Prosch said that for him it has been a matter of adjustment to the new offense, but now he feels right at home.

"I feel like the beginning of the season I was having a little bit of trouble adjusting," Prosch said. "Then whenever I had my thumb issue with the cast, I think that really hurt me because not being able to use my hand at all during my blocking kind of made me turn into a shoulder blocker and I think that kind of hurt me a little bit in the middle of the season. But I was still learning an offense and learn how to get to those blocks. Once I got my cast off, I kind of had a better feel for everything and now I feel great about the offense. I wish I had more time than just a few more games because I'm really starting to feel it click now."

Garrett Done For The Year

Ellis Johnson finally confirmed what we've been saying for several months, that junior Justin Garrett is done for the season after having minor foot surgery. While he said Garrett could possibly get back for bowl practices, the veteran coach said it would be a waste of a year to play him at this point. Garrett should be back in the spring and have two seasons of eligibility remaining.


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