Eddins Prepares For Final Conference Game

Defensive end Bret Eddins talks about Auburn's game with Tennessee and Coach Tommy Tuberville discusses Thursday's practice.

Auburn, Ala.—-Auburn senior Bret Eddins can see where some of the ideas come from when Tennessee players like Kevin Burnett and Jason Allen run their mouths about the Tigers' 34-10 victory over the Vols earlier this season. Forcing five turnovers, although most were in the second half, and torching UT for 31 first half points, Auburn was able to run away and hide in the first meeting between the two teams. Eddins said he's not sure that will be the case the second time around because of the circumstances involved.

"For a lot of the guys on the team we realize that the ball bounced our way that game," Eddins said. "Plays went our way that a lot of times aren't going to go your way. Things happened to them in that game that haven't happened to them all season and hasn't happened to us the rest of the season. You expect the worst to happen and we're practicing like it's a new team. They've been playing good the last couple of weeks (offensively). Rick Clausen has come on and is a good quarterback. We're going to have to be prepared for them.

"The tough thing is our gameplan really worked last time and theirs didn't work as well as they wanted it to," he added. "We're not sure how they're going to gameplan now and they probably have a pretty good idea of what ours is going to be. It's kind of tough to prepare for that, so I don't think anybody is overconfident."

Eddins hits LSU quarterback Marcus Randall in Auburn's 10-9 win earlier this season.

Overconfidence hasn't been a problem for this Auburn team all season despite winning all 11 games on the way to the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. Feeling a lack of respect from some opponents as well as the national media, the Tigers have focused all their energy into the play on the field.

Defensively, that has meant dominating opponents time and time again in 2004. Just one time this season did the Tigers allow more than 14 points in a game, allowing 20 to Arkansas. Auburn has given up just one rushing touchdown all season, a stat unheard of in this day and age of powerful offenses. Despite the prowess of the defense, Eddins said the difference in this team has been on offense where Coach Tommy Tuberville hired Al Borges and turned the Tiger program around in one move.

"It's a credit to Coach Borges and Coach Tuberville and our whole offensive staff," Eddins said. "As a defense that's one of the reasons we're able to go out there and play loose, because we know the offense has the capability of putting up so many points. Luckily this year we've been able to score early and let our defense play loose and the offense has been able to control the clock.

"In the Alabama game that wasn't the case in the first half and I think it showed a lot of the leadership of the guys on offense to come back and say "just put it in our hands and we'll take control of it". They did. That has been a big step for this team."

Eddins and the Tigers hope to take another step forward for the program Saturday when they take on Tennessee looking for Auburn's first SEC title in 15 seasons. He said that winning it would mean a great deal to a lot of people associated with the program and to the people who follow it every day of their lives.

"A lot of these seniors have the SEC West rings and things like that," Eddins said. "It has been tough for a lot of guys because they've had to work through stuff. We've played good enough this season that we feel like if we go out there and play like we're capable of playing then we'll have a chance. It would mean a lot for this team, this coaching staff, the Auburn family. I think it would mean a lot to more than just me or these seniors."

Auburn put the finishing touches on the gameplan Thursday with a practice that lasted around an hour and a half on the artificial surface practice field on campus. Focusing of all aspects of the game including special teams, Coach Tommy Tuberville said the day and week went about as well as he could have hoped for leading into the championship game.

"We worked a lot on the kicking game," Tuberville said. "We spent extra time on that today. We worked on all of our gameplan. The guys are sharp, now we need to play. It's kind of like having an opening season game in that sometimes you can practice too much. We kind of pulled back the last two days and got them mentally focused. It has been a great five or six days of practice. All of our guys now are anxious to get over there and jog around the dome tomorrow and check our shoes out and look at the turf and get after it."

The practice was the last regular season practice for a group of seniors that has been instrumental in Auburn's rise to national prominence this season. Led by quarterback Jason Campbell and running backs Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown, the Tigers have won 13 games in a row dating back to last season and are 35-14 in the last four years. Tuberville said it's going to be tough to see those guys go.

"Luckily we've got them for another month," Tuberville said. "When we get to that bowl game it's going to be a little different knowing that those guys have done so much for this school and this team. They've meant so much in what they've done on and off the field. It's always tough to see guys like that go. You've had guys like Dontarrious (Dontarrious Thomas), Karlos (Karlos Dansby), on and on every year, that's the tough thing about college athletics. They don't choose to move on, they have to move on."

Kickoff for Saturday's game against Tennessee is scheduled for 5 p.m. and can be seen nationally on CBS. This will be the 49th meeting between the two schools with Auburn holding a 24-21-3 advantage in the series. The teams met in the 1997 SEC title game with Tennessee winning 30-29.

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