Tuesday Practice In Stadium For Tigers

The Auburn Tigers practiced in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Tuesday in full pads as they prepare for the Alabama game.

Auburn, Ala.–-Game week for the Iron Bowl brings about a different feeling for both teams and usually means a heightened sense of urgency around the football teams. Auburn lived up to the history of the rivalry with a two hour closed practice on Tuesday inside Jordan-Hare Stadium in full pads. The Tigers worked on all phases of the gameplan for Saturday's game against rival Alabama and defensive coordinator Gene Chizik said the practice was one to build on the rest of the week.

"Today I thought was really an up tempo, upbeat practice," Chizik said. "I thought they were very focused on what we have to do to play well Saturday. That's not a shock because they've been pretty focused on year. I thought today was a really good day.

"It went well," Chizik said of the move to the stadium. "It was just a little change of pace and gets you in a game week frame of mind practicing in the stadium. We haven't done that all year since two-a-days. That's kind of what we've been doing the last three years. It's kind of tradition to go there during Iron Bowl week. It just gives you a little different sense of urgency I guess. I thought it helped our football team focus today."

Kenneth Darby

Defensively, the toughest job for the Tigers this week is the challenge of the SEC's top running game, led by a strong offensive line and the running of Kenneth Darby. Chizik said like always Auburn's first goal is to stop the running game, something that very few have done to Alabama this season.

"They're definitely the best rushing team we've seen this season," Chizik said. "That tailback is a super football player. That offensive line is big and physical. They run the ball well for a reason. They are running it on everybody. They are very physical up front. The tailback has great vision and power. He's got a knack for seeing things you can't coach. Coach (Mike) Shula has really done a great job in terms of creating ways and finding ways to beat your defense with the running game."

Another challenge facing Auburn's defense will be the uncertainty at quarterback for the Crimson Tide. With starter Spencer Pennington questionable because of bruised ribs and a sore shoulder, former starter Mark Guillon has taken some snaps this week despite some back problems experienced earlier in the year. Even wide receiver Tyrone Prothro is expected to see some actoin at quarterback this week, making Chizik's job a tough one on who to prepare for and how much to prepare for each.

"This is kind of old hat really," Chizik said. "We've been trying to play "guess who's at quarterback?" about every other week. I'm assuming it's going to be Pennington and we'll go from there if it's not. We're practicing exactly like Pennington is going to be there and their team is ready to roll. We've got a plan and we're going to stick to the plan no matter who is there. If Prothro is at quarterback we'll be very aware of that, but the plan is going to stay the game right now. We have to stop the run and be sound on our play-action deep balls.

"He could be anywhere," Chizik added on Prothro. "He can be anywhere and we're preparing for that. He's shown himself at quarterback and then he'll be at wideout and they'll use him on reverses. He's a definite, definite threat for them and we're going to prepare for him to be everywhere. We're going to prepare for him to be in a number of different spots."

One of those spots is at wide receiver where Alabama has some talented, but young, players capable of getting deep down the field. Chizik said that although they haven't thrown the ball well lately they are still capable of getting the job done through the air. There's little doubt when Alabama does pass the ball will be thrown in the direction of sophomore Montae Pitts. Playing opposite All-American candidate Carlos Rogers at cornerback, Pitts is definitely the player defenses will target as they throw the ball, but Chizik said so far he's been up to the challenge.

"I'll just say this," Chizik said. "I'm just proud of the way he played Saturday. He's going to have to prove it again this Saturday. Every week I have to know someone is going to show up. I don't need a guy that shows up every other week. Let's just put it that way. I was very proud of the way he responded last week and I was very proud of the way he practiced today. I thought he practiced well and hard today."

Auburn appears to be pretty healthy for the 11th game of the season as center Jeremy Ingle was back practicing on Tuesday after taking Sunday to rest and rehab his sore ankle. The Georgia game was the first for Ingle after injuring his ankle against Kentucky several weeks ago. Defensive lineman Bret Eddins also appeared to be fine after injuring his arm against the Bulldogs.

Kickoff for Saturday's game against the Crimson Tide is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and can be seen nationally on CBS television. Auburn enters the game with a 10-0 record, 7-0 in the SEC, while Alabama is 6-4, 3-4 in the conference.

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