Tigers Back to Work Preparing for FSU

The Auburn football players worked out on Friday as they prepare for the BCS National Championship GAme.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn football Tigers were back on the practice field on Friday as they resumed preparations for their Jan. 6th BCS National Championship contest vs. Florida State.

Coach Gus Malzahn and his staff put the Tigers through a full pads workout. The Tigers are planning to practice the next three days on campus before boarding their charter flight to California on New Year's Eve.

The matchup will be the first time the Tigers and Seminoles have played in football since the 1990 season when Auburn took a 20-17 victory. Overall, Auburn leads the series 13-4-1.

The Tigers are shown at Friday's practice, their first since taking a break prior to Christmas.

One of the major challenges this season's FSU team presents the Tigers is defending quarterback Jameis Winston, who is leading an FSU offense that is averaging 529.4 yards per contest with 322.0 per game through the air.

"They are a vertical team," Auburn safety Jermaine Whitehead said of FSU's passing attack. "He trusts his receivers a whole lot--probably the most from a quarterback (Auburn has faced) this season. They are very confident."

Winston, a redshirt freshman who was the runaway winner for the Heisman Trophy, is completing 67.9 percent of his passes. He has thrown for 3,820 yards with 38 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

"He had a great season, a tremendous season," Whitehead said. "He did a lot of great things. He makes his team better. They feed off his energy. It's fun to watch him take charge of his team...What he does best is he moves a lot, he can make the deep-ball throw."

Rashad Greene leads FSU in receiving yardage with 67 catches for 981 yards and nine touchdowns. Kelvin Benjamin has 50 catches for 957 yards and 14 touchdowns while Kenny Shaw has 52 receptions for 929 yards and six scores.

The Tigers have already faced and defeated 2012 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel this season as well as the 2013 runnerup A.J. McCarron. The Tigers have also had to deal with Aaron Murray, the all-time leading passer in SEC history, in addition to Missouri star QB James Franklin so the AU defense has been tested throughout the season.

All-SEC senior defensive end Dee Ford agrees with Whitehead that Winston is a talented QB. "All of them are different," Ford said of the top quarterbacks the Tigers have faced this year. "I would say Jameis is probably a little bit of a mixture of Aaron Murray and Manziel because he can move around in the pocket--probably not as well as Johnny Manziel, but he can really move his feet and he has a rocket."

Ford said the Tigers need to get pressure on the FSU quarterback. The Seminoles have given up 29 sacks this season while Auburn's defense has 28 sacks.

Ford leads the Tigers in sacks with 8 1/2 and is tackles for lost yardage with 12 1/2. Junior defensive tackle Gabe Wright is No. 2 in tackles for losses with 8 1/2.

Gabe Wright works out on Friday as the Tigers prepare for FSU's offense.

Whitehead noted the Tigers have to be prepared for more than just FSU passing attack with the Seminoles averaging 207.4 yards per game on the ground. "We have to stay on our Ps and Qs and be able to execute both run and pass defense," the junior said.

Auburn has performed well in close contests this year and that is something Whitehead said is no accident. "We find ways to win in the end," he said. "Coach Malzahn is probably one of the best situational coaches in college football. He has done a great job of preparing us for situations that can occur. In the oddest of situations, we have been able to pull out a win. If it comes down to a nail biter, we'll find a way to win."

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories