Coach Tommy Tuberville put Auburn through a light workout in shorts as the Tigers spent a little more than 90 minutes reviewing the game plan for Saturday's 2:30 p.m. contest against the Rebels, who lead the SEC West at 5-0. Auburn, which is 4-1 in the conference, needs a victory to keep pace and have a solid chance at playing in the SEC Championship Game representing the division.
Tommy "T.J." Jackson
For that to happen, Auburn can't afford to let Ole Miss get out of town on Saturday without its first conference loss of the season. To make that happen, it would greatly help the Auburn cause if Jackson and the other members of the front four can put on the type of pass rush that will take pressure off their teammates in the secondary. Tuberville says the backup defensive linemen need to contribute because it will likely be a game in which the front four starters will need to be heavily rotated to keep fresh linemen in the game.
Veteran defensive lineman Demarco McNeil says his team needs to make the Rebels one dimensional on Saturday. "If Ole Miss is able to run the ball, that makes Eli just that much more dangerous because he does a great job with play-action passes," McNeil says. "If they are able to run and pass, more than likely we are going to come out of it with an ‘L.,' but hopefully we can stop the run to try to make them one-dimensional and predictable."
Jackson says he agrees with McNeil and notes, "We can't lose another game. We have to stop their running game and we have got to get pressure on their quarterback because he is a great passer. He does everything right as a quarterback. When you watch him on film you realize that we have got to get back there and put pressure on him and try to rattle him."
Jackson, who will share playing time at noseguard with McNeil, says he is sure his Tigers will be up for Saturday's game. "It is one of those games that we can't afford to make mistakes and we have to get great effort from everybody--the linemen, the linebackers and the secondary.
Jackson and the Tigers expect to be busy chasing Eli Manning this Saturday.
"Manning is a smart guy and he has a great offensive line up front that knows how to protect him," Jackson says. "They have good athletes at every position on offense so this is going to be a challenging game for us."
Senior wide receiver Jeris McIntyre is Auburn's top threat in the passing game. He caught four balls last week for 100 yards and could be a key player this week against an Ole Miss defense that has had its problems defending the pass. The Rebels are 115th nationally in pass defense.
McIntyre says that the three remaining conference games will make or break his senior season. He has played on two previous Auburn teams that had strong finishes and the one two seasons ago that struggled late. "Hopefully, this will be the third team that finishes really strong," McIntyre says. "I really can't tell now as of now, but with the confidence this team has and the great team leaders I think we are capable of finishing strong these last three games."
Tuberville said Thursday evening that the Tigers had a good overall week of practice and look ready for Saturday's game. Marcus McNeill, who missed last week's game with a back problem, "looked good" at Thursday's practice. Taiback Ronnie Brown, who bruised his thigh in the homecoming victory, was running well at practice. Defensive end Doug Langenfeld, who has been out of action since the Arkansas game with a high ankle sprain, practiced again and is expected to see action on Saturday.
Tiger Ticket Extra: Scouts from five bowls will be at the game to scout the action. Representatives from the Outback, Peach, Cotton, Independence and Capital One bowls are expected to attend.