After a less than stellar effort against Ole Miss over the weekend, starting cornerback Montae Pitts will be in for a fight in the next two weeks leading up to the Georgia game to hold on to his job. Coach Gene Chizik said that two candidates have stepped to the forefront and will get a shot at the position before next Saturday's game.
"It's a huge concern," Chizik said about the concern for giving up big plays in the secondary. "We're addressing that problem right now. There's going to be some changes made in the defense, possible personnel changes. Right now we're not getting the job done over there at one of those corners. Other than Carlos Rogers I'm not happy at all with the way any of the corners are playing."
Because of that both Zach Gilbert and Patrick Lee worked with the first team defense at cornerback along with Pitts in Tuesday's practice. Chizik said that Rogers has stepped up and played great football this season and he's looking for that same consistency on the other side of the field.
With three scheduled practices this week before the team takes Friday and Saturday off to rest, the Tigers spent just over an hour on the wet practice field Tuesday in shorts and shoulder pads. Coach Al Borges said this week is about getting his unit some rest and an early look at the gameplan for Georgia.
"One of the priorities for Tubs (Tommy Tuberville), and we're all in agreement, is that we've got to recover a little bit," Borges said. "That's not taking anything away from Mississippi because they played hard and really fought us, but last week's practices were not what they've been. This is timely. We're not going to practice real long. We're just going to introduce the embryonic part of the game plan and then Monday we'll put it in entirely."
Coach Al Borges
Auburn's injury situation should improve this week with the players having plenty of time to rest and recover. Defensive lineman Tommy Jackson (knee sprain) was working with the Auburn trainers on the side at practice and looked to be moving pretty well. He should be back in time for the Georgia game in two weeks. Linebackers Antarrious Williams (burner) and Kevin Sears (bruised shoulder) are also practicing and the time off should do wonders for their conditions.
With an off week to prepare, Borges said that he's already had plenty of time to watch the Bulldog defense on film and is very impressed with how well coached the unit is. Obviously, the play of David Pollack and the front four has impressed Borges, but he said that he has to control the urge this week to try not to do too much for Georgia and overload his own team.
"I think it helps, it really helps," Borges said of the off week. "It helps in preparation and it helps in recovery. You have to be careful though. It's like a bowl game, sometimes you become so inundated with data that you want to put too much in and you can't run anything. I have fallen victim to that before. We're going to be careful with that, but it's always nice to have more time."
Against Ole Miss, the Auburn offense struggled early and Borges said that for the first time since LSU the team couldn't get in a rhythm. That all changed when quarterback Jason Campbell threw from his own one-yard line to Courtney Taylor for a big gainer. That set the tone for a big 99-yard touchdown drive to close the first half. Auburn then scored on its opening possession of the second half and was on the way to a 35 point night. Borges said that throwing the ball in that situation wasn't really a concern because of the play of the line this season and because the opponents are concerned about the run.
"The one thing about it is that when they've got them all packed in there they're playing run, they're not really playing pass," Borges said. "If you look throughout the game, I won't say Jason wasn't touched, but he wasn't harassed a lot in this football game. A lot of it is because we're doing so much play passing and our backs are getting so much attention that the quarterback has a little more time."
Through nine games the atmosphere for Auburn's games has been up and down, with huge games like LSU, Tennessee and Ole Miss all standing out for their festive and loud crowds. Borges said that while he's been impressed by all that has happened this season, he's anxious to see the atmospheres for the next two games, both of Auburn's biggest rivals.
"The next thing I heard when I came here was there was nothing like the Georgia and Alabama games," Borges said. "Georgia is one thing and then the Alabama game is another. Now I'm going to get a chance to experience that. I just can't imagine having any more electricity than we've had so far, but I guess there is."