Experience A Factor For Tigers

Auburn's past experience in the BCS National Championship Game could come into play this week as the Tigers prepare for Florida State.

Anaheim, Cal.--When the 2013 season began very few expected the Auburn Tigers to be getting a greeting at Downtown Disney on New Year's Eve, but that was exactly the case on Tuesday as Gus Malzahn, Reese Dismukes and Dee Ford represented the Tigers at the BCS Championship press conference at ESPNZone.

It‘s not an unfamiliar situation for Malzahn, Ford and several more of the Tigers however as they are just three years removed from winning it all following the 2010 season. With that experience and the task of taking things day-by-day all season long, the first-year Auburn coach said this week is all about staying in the moment and following the routine that has made them successful all season.

"You just try your best to stay in the same routine," Malzahn said. "That‘s what we‘ll do. We‘ve had this experience before so that‘s got to help.

"Any time you play in the national championship there is a lot that goes with it," he added. "First of all there is a long layoff so strategically you've got to plan your practices and everything that goes with that. Then once you get here it's not a normal bowl week. There is a lot of extra stuff that goes with it.

"That past experience has got to help and the fact that we've got some players that have experienced it. I know the older guys have talked to the younger guys and told them what to expect. Hopefully that will help us moving forward next week."

Before Auburn can move forward it's tough not to look at just how far this team has come. Winning just three games last year, the Tigers are now a win away from winning the national championship. Ford said it's all about the confidence that Malzahn brought to the table that has made all the difference.

"We took it back to square one," Ford said. "Coach Malzahn came in and did a great job of really getting us to trust what the coaches were doing. That started with spring practice. We said we were going to take it one practice at a time, one day at a time, and one game at a time. We were just able to execute and really change who we were as players."

With the greatest turnaround in college football history now almost complete, Ford said when he looks back at this season he will see a team that took its destiny in its own hands. Not depending on the coaches or other teams to get the job done for them, he said the veteran leaders stepped up and that has made all the difference.

"We came in and we really focused on the players and what we had to bring to the table," Ford said. "He really did a great job of letting us know that it had to come from the players. It had to be a player-driven team and we had to buckle down and work hard. He told us this entire year that it was going to be very hard and we had to trust in each other and focus on the task at hand."

Auburn will hit the practice field on Wednesday at UC-Irvine for the first of its practices in California leading up to the Jan. 6 BCS Championship Game in the Rose Bowl.


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