Saban Says He Likes What He Sees Of Auburn Offense

LSU Coach Nick Saban talks about his team's first SEC game as the defending national champs prepare for a road trip to Auburn.

Baton Rouge, La.–-There is no quarterback controversy in Baton Rouge as far as LSU Coach Nick Saban is concerned.

While many coaches shudder at the fear of playing two quarterbacks, Saban said that both Marcus Randall and JaMarcus Russell will play against Auburn on Saturday and in the forseeable future.

The starter for the opener against Oregon State, Randall struggled in his first meaningful action since the 2002 season. He hit just 7-18 passes for 66 yards and one interception before being replaced by Russell. The true freshman got the job done, but was just 9-26 for 145 yards. He did throw two touchdowns with no interceptions.

Splitting time in a blowout of Arkansas State Saturday night both were solid. Randall hit 5-7 passes for 59 yards while Russell hit 7-11 for 151 yards and two more touchdowns.

"Both of our guys have abilities and are weapons for our team," Saban said. "Rather than create a controversy with them, I think we should use them both as such until one of them clearly shows that he's ready to be that guy on our team. I have talked to a lot of guys on the team and it doesn't seem to impact them which guy is playing quarterback. A lot of them respect Marcus and a lot of them have a lot of deference towards JaMarcus' ability and how he may continue to develop.

"We're going to continue to use both of the guys and what they can do best to help our team be successful. That's the way we're going to approach it and that's the way we're going to plan it."

Marcus Randall had a bad trip on his last visit to Auburn.

While LSU's offense has been up and down, Saban said he's been impressed with Auburn's offensive performance this season under senior Jason Campbell. With running backs Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown running well and the offensive line paving the way, Saban said the offense has been impressive to him this season.

"They are on the field together a lot now," Saban said of Williams and Brown. "They played them both together a lot in the first two games. I think that gives you double trouble. They are a little bit different style. Ronnie Brown is fast, but powerful. He's a big guy. Cadillac is a little smaller, but very quick with a great change of direction. Both guys make you miss in their own way. Both guys are very difficult to tackle."

Auburn's passing game has been inconsistent for much of the last two seasons and this year has seen little change in that area, except in the red zone. Campbell has five touchdown passes in just two games this season and Saturday found a big play threat in junior wide receiver Anthony Mix, who he said creates a tough matchup for a defense because of his mix of size and speed. Saban said Mix is a tough player to game plan for as a defensive coach.

"He creates problems," Saban said. "You have a 6-6, 240-pound guy playing point guard and a little guy guarding him, it creates problems. It doesn't make any difference about their abilities. Little guys have trouble guarding big guys. The way they use him it's really a nickel situation. You need to have a defensive back in there to play what they're doing. He's a unique guy and I don't think a linebacker, based on his skill level, could cover him. To have a guy like that is a unique advantage in terms of size and speed. No different than Plexico Burress at Michigan State."

One player who dealt Auburn fits last season was All-American nose guard Chad Lavalais. Despite his departure the Bengal Tigers are still tough up the middle with big Kyle Williams stuffing the middle. Saban said he's been very pleased with the play of Williams in LSU's first two games and he's looking for big things out of him the rest of the season.

"Kyle has played extremely well," Saban said. "He's done a nice job and been a really good leader for us. He's got a lot of toughness and tenacity. He plays hard and does a good job recognizing things up front. He's a very smart player. I couldn't be more pleased with the way he's played in the first two games."

Nick Saban's Tigers have not lost a game since falling to Florida early last season.

Weather can sometimes play a big part in a football game and this weekend could be affected greatly by Hurricane Ivan. A strong category five storm forecast to possibly travel somewhere near the Auburn area on Thursday, Ivan could have a huge impact on Saturday's 2:30 p.m. kickoff. Saban said he is hoping that his team can play better in wet conditions than they have in the past and he said his team has to learn how to handle adverse conditions.

"Have you ever seen LSU play well in the rain," Saban asked? "I haven't since I've been here. I have stood on Lake Erie and had the bones chilled with the rain and the snow. We don't get an opportunity to do that much here and I don't think our players get an opportunity to do that much growing up. Where I come from you don't not go places because it's raining. Where I come from you don't cancel things because it's raining. Where I come from it's not dangerous to drive when it's raning. Raining is nothing, snowing is something.

"We were worried about ‘is it going to snow during the game? Is it going to snow'? We need to overcome that and need to play better and have more confidence in playing in bad weather conditions. The style of team we choose to have here is going to be affected on a slow track more because we do have a fast team."


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