Chizik Looking For Improvement On Defense

Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik talks about Tuesday's practice and the improvement he wants to see out of the defense.

Auburn, Ala.–-Periods of heavy rain forced the Auburn Tigers inside for part of Tuesday's two hour practice as they continue preparations for this Saturday's game against the Kentucky Wildcats.

Following a rain-free early part of practice where Coach Eddie Gran was able to work on the special teams, a driving rain forced the offensive unit inside at times while the defense remained outside to practice. Coach Gene Chizik said it was a tough practice day, but one where a lot of concentration was needed to get the work done after a solid, but uninspiring defensive performance against Arkansas on Saturday..

"I thought they were very focused," Chizik said. "We talked on Sunday that we thought it was a real sloppy game we played on Satuday. Overall it was just really sloppy in terms of us being where we're supposed to be and us tackling. By far it was our worst game in terms of those things.

"We tried to get them back on track today and refocused to play this Saturday like we think we should be able to play which we didn't do last Saturday. They were focused today. The rain didn't bother us. I think we got a lot done."

One part of the Arkansas game that really bothered Chizik was the play of the secondary overall. While senior cornerback Carlos Rogers played a solid game on one side, the rest of the guys didn't live up to previous billing and Chizik said that's something that has to be corrected if Auburn hopes to contend down the stretch.

"It was the worst game we've played all year," Chizik said. "We didn't tackle well. We didn't play the ball in the air well. We didn't play coverage well. It was evident on a 60 yard touchdown pass. Any time you're giving up 120 yards on two plays and touchdowns, something is wrong. We had to go back to the drawing board today, go back to the basics, fundamentals. I didn't really have to tell them that, they knew that. They knew where the problems were."

Kevin Hobbs

One change in the secondary could come in the starting lineup at cornerback opposite Rogers where sophomore Montae Pitts is currently holding down the fort. Against Arkansas Pitts made several costly mistakes that drew the ire of Chizik and caused him to put junior Kevin Hobbs in the game early. Chizik said it will be a wait and see for who starts this Saturday.

"Right now we're to keep it the same," Chizik said. "We'll see right now. It's kind of a touch and go deal. Whoever is playing better at the time we'll kind of go with him. We'll rotate those guys in and out.

Despite the questionable status of Kentucky quarterback Shane Boyd, Chizik said Auburn is still planning on seeing the athletic senior under center. A powerful runner and improving passer, Boyd's versatility gives teams problems because of how much he controls the flow of the offense. Although Kentucky does a lot of different things on offense, Chizik said this game is going to about what his defense does and how they execute the defensive gameplan.

"Kentucky is a football team that gives you a lot of different things to work on," Chizik said. "What we're not going to do this week is submerge our guys with all kinds of needless information. We're going to line up and try to put everything into a pretty concise package. Every game they're going to give you some new things here and new things there. We're preparing more for us to be prepared for anything they do. Really, that's the way you have to approach it because the in the games we've got right now they're doing so many different things and so many different formations and so many different offenses rolled into one. I'm not sure which one they're going to come out with.

"I'm assuming that he's going to play," Chizik said of Boyd. "And we're preparing like he's going to play. I'm sure whoever the back-up is they can't completely change philosophies. We're just going to prepare like the quarterback is definitely going to play and if he doesn't we'll adjust on the run."

On the injury front the Tigers are in good shape with linebackers Derrick Graves and Kevin Sears both practicing on Tuesday after suffering minor bumps and bruises during Saturday's victory over Arkansas. Wide receiver Ben Obomanu also practiced after hurting his back against the Hogs. He should be fine for Saturday.

Kickoff for Saturday's contest is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and there is no television for the game. Auburn will practice Wednesday and Thursday in Auburn before traveling out of town on Friday. Auburn leads the all-time series with Kentucky 22-5-1 and the Tigers have won the last 13 games against the Wildcats dating back to 1966.


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