But the Tigers have gone to Baton Rouge, faced those same obstacles before and left 'Death Valley'"as the victors, not the victim. And it's something linebacker Tavarreus Pounds says the Tigers are capable of repeating. "I think we will be alright down there," the senior says."It's not like we haven't been down there before. If we did it before, we can do it again."
Pounds was a sophomore on the 1999 Auburn team that caused one of the worst debacles ever by an LSU team on its home field. The Tigers jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead on their way to a 41-7 victory. "It's going to be a hostile crowd," Pounds predicts. "It's definitely a hard place to play. As you know a couple years ago we went down there and sent half of (their fans) home early, early in the game, so hopefully we can do the same thing this year."
Getting the thousands of Bengal Tiger fans out of the game early two seasons ago was one of the best tactics along with an aggressive game plan that Auburn used in its 34-point victory. The visiting Tigers will need to use both of those tactics this year to be successful, but securing their first SEC road win of the season will be an even more daunting task since Tiger Stadium's capacity has increased to 91,600.
"We just need to go down there and play like we have been playing," defensive tackle DeMarco McNeil says. "The only thing about a road game is that it is going to be difficult the day before the game, but once you are out there on the field it's nothing but 11 on 11."
McNeil, who was redshirted during the '99 season, hasn't played at Tiger Stadium yet, but he has played in front of a rowdy crowd before at '"The Swamp'" in Gainesville and says it is important for each player to block out the crowd. "If you just cancel everything out and just play 11 on 11 instead of 85,000 or 90,000 on 11, then we should be fine."
An aggressive game plan is one thing that allowed the Tigers to quiet Tiger Stadium relatively early two seasons ago and is something tight end Lorenzo Diamond says will be key to his team's success again this season. "I think we're going to be a lot more agressive. It's going to be our first road game and our first real big SEC test. We're going to have to be agressive. We're going to take it to them and let them know we are an SEC contender and we didn't go over there to lose."
That confident attitude is easier to carry into Baton Rouge if you are a veteran that has been through this type of battle before, but as for the youngsters on the Auburn team who will be making their first appearance in front of a crowd which is not going crazy for them, it can be a worrisome situation.
Rover Roderick Hood says his first experience at Tiger Stadium was nerve racking. "My freshman year it was kind of wild," the junior says. "Larry (Casher) went down and they had to put me in the game. I am not going to tell a story, I was scared as all outdoors."
Hood, Diamond and Pounds will be among several veterans who will have to help ease the anxiety the younger players might be feeling.
"It's going to be a big test for a lot of the young people, the redshirt freshmen and true freshmen who have not been around a crowd that big and had people against them," Pounds says. "For the last couple of weeks we have been at home and the crowd has been on our side. It's going to be a change for them and if they let the crowd play into them, then it could affect their game somewhat. But I hope they get their minds right and go out and do what they have to do."
With a team guided by redshirt freshman quarterback Jason Campbell and a backfield equipped with two freshmen and a sophomore, the young players on this team will play a vital role in the outcome of the game and the veterans on this team have stressed the importance of what lies ahead for this team in 'Death Valley' Saturday night.