Tigers Preparing For Tide Option

If the Tigers stop Alabama's running attack, Auburn should have a great chance to clinch the SEC West title on Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn defense has already been burned once this year by an option quarterback. That may not be a bad thing though for a defense that will likely spend extra time in the film room this week watching how Arkansas true freshman Matt Jones caught the unit off guard in their 42-17 loss to the Hogs when he relieved starter Zak Clark.

Jones ran through, around and by unprepared Auburn defenders gaining 99 yards on the ground and scoring on a 37-yard run, which is the longest given up by the Tigers this season. The Tigers are going to try and find a way to stop Alabama signal-callers Tyler Watts and Andrew Zow and the option-oriented offense new Tide Coach Dennis Francione will bring to Jordan-Hare Stadium for Saturday's 2:30 p.m. kickoff.

Watts leads all SEC quarterbacks in rushing yards with 564, but the junior from Pelham suffered a groin injury last week vs. Mississippi State. Watts' injury means Zow will also get some chances behind center for Alabama. Rover

Rashaud Walker was just one of the Tigers who looked lost in Fayetteville, but he says what Jones did to the Tigers will matter little when Saturday rolls around. "It's the Alabama game," Walker says. "Throw all that out. We have confidence in everything. We have to go out there and play like it's the Iron Bowl."

Rashaud Walker at practice.

It is the biggest game of the year for Auburn, but Walker admits his team still has to be prepared for what Alabama will throw at them. "Go in and look over film and make our corrections from the Arkansas game when we did play against the option," he adds. "Just get focused in on Alabama. They will try to run the option. We have to study film on how to defend it and keep it from beating us."

Even at 4-5, Alabama still poses a serious threat to the Tigers. The Tide would like nothing more than to come to Jordan-Hare Stadium and prevent Auburn from winning its second straight SEC Western Division title. A win would also keep the Tide's postseason hopes alive with one game remaining vs. Southern Miss. "They have a good team over there with pretty good athletes, but we have to worry about what is on our end and worry about Auburn and prepare for the option and not let it beat us."

Watts isn't a one man show for the Tide. He has a pair of talented backfield mates who have put up impressive numbers this season. Junior Ahmad Galloway and sophomore Santonio Beard have combined to rush for 1,097 yards out of the tailback spot making the option even harder to defend. Galloway leads the team with 628 yards on the ground and Beard is averaging 7.6 yards a carry.

"It can be difficult because you have to have someone containing each person," Walker says. "The quarterback has so many options, to either pitch it, run it or he can drop back and pass. It's a lot of assignments going on at one time, you have to get on your assignments so quickly. If everyone knows their assignments, it's a pretty simple technique."

As simple as the technique might be, the players still have to go out and execute and if the Tigers can do just that, than it is likely when the clock runs out Saturday in The Jungle they can mark their calendars for a return trip to Atlanta on Dec. 8.

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