Tiger Secondary Faces Toughest Test

Defensive coordinator John Lovett discusses the challenge of facing Florida's high-powered offense.

Auburn, Ala.--Defensive coordinator John Lovett is trying to stay upbeat as he prepares his secondary for the amazing Florida Gator offense that is averaging a shade under 600 yards per outing.

Last season, in two tries against the Gators, Auburn could not cover Florida's star receivers Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell. The Tigers were not alone as the Gators waltzed through their SEC schedule to win Steve Spurrier a sixth conference crown in his 11 seasons as head coach in Gainesville.

Defensive coordinator John Lovett will have his hands full and then some this week as the No. 1 ranked Gators come to town.

"The matchups we have will be better than what we have had in the past because they are bigger guys," Lovett says. "They are not as experienced as the guys that we had, but they are physically bigger and we have more of them that can go out there. I think we will have a much better chance to play consistently out there. We have got to get the D line guys healthy because we are going to need to get some pass rush."

With cornerback Travaris Robinson questionable after being injured in the 16-14 victory over Mississippi State, Lovett will be looking for additional help. Cornerback Horace Willis, who missed the Mississippi State game due to a hamstring strain suffered at Vanderbilt, was running well at Sunday's practice.

"I feel pretty confident that Horace will be back," Lovett says. "That thing had been nagging him so we all decided to keep him out of this game so he doesn't have a chance to mess it up and he can get it well. I think that will work for us. I am hopeful."

Cornerback Horace Willis went down with an injury in preseason after impressing coaches early during two-a-days.

Auburn heads into the game with the Gators ranked ninth nationally in total defense. The Tigers are giving up 264.4 yards per game. The Gators are averaging 454 yards per contest through the air while adding 141.6 per contest on the ground. That adds up to nearly 50 points per game for the Gator Fun-N-Gun offense.

Lovett says he realizes that nobody has put the brakes on the Gator offense so far this season. "We have to tool down and figure out what we are going to do against them," he says. "We already have some ideas of what we are going to do, but we have got to get our kids on the same page about how we are going to slow them down. They have got to come here and we have played pretty tough in our stadium. Hopefully, that will continue. I think the win over Mississippi State is something we can build on. The goal line stand is something we can build on."

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