Defensively, Auburn faces an offense that is balanced and features one of the top lines in the country. Offensively, the challenge is moving the ball against one of the top statistical defenses around. First in the SEC in points allowed and total defense, the LSU Tigers have been tough this season and Auburn junior wide receiver Silas Daniels said that's what makes this game so much fun to prepare for and play in.
"It's always a challenge when you play against a top defense," Daniels said. "You go out there and try to execute and you know they are going to give you a good challenge. They play a lot of man and blitz a lot so as a receiver you look forward to opportunities like this to go against one-on-one coverage all night."
Facing a defense that relies on getting pressure on the quarterback and playing single coverage outside, Auburn will have a chance to make some big plays in the passing game against the Bengal Tigers with quarterback Jason Campbell. This season teams are passing for 210.3 yards per game and have six touchdowns vs. LSU, but have thrown 10 interceptions. Daniels said Auburn will have to take advantage of the chances when they have them Saturday night because they don't come around too often.
"We know we're going to have a couple of opportunities because they are going to blitz to try to throw Jason's timing off," Daniels said. "We're going to have to execute and work our technique. They have good corners and play man-to-man. We're going to have to make plays."
Ronnie Brown runs during Tuesday's practice.
Working on execution is something Auburn spent a great deal of time on in Tuesday's practice. On the field a full two hours after a 30-minute special teams practice where Coach Eddie Gran worked on the punt coverage and return teams, the Tigers spent the majority of the day working on the game plan and the technique. Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik said he's been pleased with how the defense has responded each week to the challenge at hand and this week has been no different.
"I think our guys do take it basically one game at a time," Chizik said. "We learned that earlier in the year. No matter what happens you just have to focus on the next opponent, which brings us to now. Everybody understands how big the game is and they are focusing and concentrating on this game just like they did the rest. We're not changing anything."
Defensively, that means that Junior Rosegreen will work at both safety and cornerback this week and could play either position or both Saturday night. Chizik said they'll make that decision later in the week depending on how Carlos Rogers keeps progressing and what game plan they implement to handle the talented and physical receivers of LSU.
That plan will obviously be centered around stopping the run, something LSU does very well. Even without starters Joseph Addai and Shyrone Carey last week the Tigers trampled South Carolina, something that has Chizik concerned heading into Saturday.
"They lose a couple of guys that are supposed starters and just fill them in with some young guys that are just as good," Chizik said. "To me they didn't skip a beat. They ran the football very effectively against South Carolina and did it in a very physical way. They didn't skip much. I don't know who's going to be back and who's not, but you can bank they're going to play the same way."
On the injury front tailback Ronnie Brown was in full stride Tuesday and looked to be primed for a return to the field this weekend. This weekend should also see a return to the field for offensive tackle Marcus McNeill. Although he sat out Tuesday's practice he should return on Wednesday and be ready to suit up Saturday night. Defensively, the only question mark is end Doug Langenfeld, who missed Tuesday's practice with a sprained ankle. He did cardiovascular work on the side Tuesday and will give the ankle a test during Wednesday's practice.
Kickoff for Saturday night's game against LSU is scheduled for 6:45 and can be seen nationally on ESPN. Auburn enters the game trailing LSU 19-17-1 in the all-time series, but has won four of the last six games between the schools and eight of the last 12.