Moats, Louisiana Tech Have Auburn's Attention

Auburn will look to run its record to 6-0 on homecoming this Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.--Any possibility that Auburn was going to overlook its homecoming opponent was likely eliminated when Louisiana Tech knocked off nationally-ranked Fresno State at the same time the Tigers were beating Tennessee in Knoxville.

The Bulldogs out of the WAC will come to Jordan-Hare Stadium with a 3-2 record and more confidence after defeating Fresno State 28-21.

Kickoff time is 2:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on a pay per view basis in the states of Alabama and Louisiana.

Auburn's defense, which is ranked second in the SEC and sixth nationally, will be challenged by Louisiana Tech tailback Ryan Moats, a junior who ran for more than 200 yards for the third time this season on Saturday night. He leads the nation with 928 yards rushing after running for 232 yards plus four touchdowns in the victory over Fresno State.

"It's good for us," Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville says of Tech's victory, noting that should keep his Tigers focused on this week's opponent. "They beat the number 17 team. (Moats) has to be one of the top rushers in the country. I would rather face a team that has beaten somebody. Our guys are looking forward to playing. It will be a challenge."

Tuberville predicts the Bulldogs will be a "much better team" than Auburn's other non-conference opponents, Louisiana-Monroe and The Citadel). Auburn, which is 5-0 and ranked sixth nationally this week, knocked off each of those teams without any serious trouble

Auburn offensive tackle Marcus McNeill says that the Tigers are not in a mood to overlook anybody on the schedule, especially with an unbeaten mark to protect. McNeill notes that the Tigers realize any team that can beat a talented Fresno State team is worthy of respect.

The Tigers are expected to have a light to average work load in practice this week. "With five conference games in a row (following the Tech game), we don't want to leave it all out on the practice field this week," Tuberville says. "We've got to get some guys healthy. We are beat up a little bit, but everybody should play."

Tuberville says this week's non-conference game will be one in which the coaching staff will have to make sure the Tigers are mentally ready to play on Saturday afternoon. "Our players are the ones that get our guys up for the big games," Tuberville says. "The coaches are more apt to be more involved in the games that you're supposed to win and don't mean as much so to speak--the non-conference games.

"We just try to put a game plan in, try to make it fun for our players, let them understand what they're ready to face, and let our seniors do the job of getting the guys prepared," Tuberville adds. "We're probably a little bit more relaxed for big games. This is major college football and if you're not ready to play a big game when the time comes, coaches are not going to be a big factor. You've got to really motivate your players to play games that maybe are not the profile game of the week or a conference game."

Football Notes: The Tennessee game marked the 11th time in the last 24 contests that Auburn has faced a Top 10 opponent, the most in Division I-A during that stretch. The Tigers have a 7-4 record in those games with wins in 2002 against LSU, Alabama and Penn State, in 2003 against Tennessee and Arkansas and in 2004 against LSU and Tennessee...In 2003, the Auburn defense was ranked in the Top 10 in three major statistical categories, including ninth in scoring defense, seventh in rushing defense and fifth in total defense. After losing five of the starting front seven to the NFL, the defense had holes to fill. However, this year's group has been just as impressive, surrendering 7.2 points per game (fourth nationally), 113.2 rushing yards per game (40th), 142.8 passing yards per game (eighth) and 256.0 total yards per game (eighth).

Having to replace three veteran starters on the defensive line, Tuberville says that the reason for success this season on the on the front is because everyone can effectively run to the football. "Quickness and speed," he says. "I've been around it all of my life and I'll take that over strength any day. We've got guys that are making plays, but we're still making a lot of mistakes on defense. The quickness and speed, most of the time, makes up for the mistakes. Our defensive line didn't grade out as well as I thought they would have after giving up 10 points. That's good to know that. We can get a lot better."...Auburn returns to SEC action a week from Saturday vs. Arkansas. That game has been scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. start and will be televised by CBS...Auburn, which is sixth in both major polls, is ranked in the Top 10 for a third straight week for the first time since the 1997 season.


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