Gibbs Excited To Be A Part Of Iron Bowl Again

Defensive coordinator David Gibbs and nose tackle Tommy Jackson talk about the Alabama game and Tuesday's practice.

Auburn, Ala.—-Working in full pads, the 11th-ranked Auburn Tigers practiced for two hours in preparation for Saturday's Iron Bowl against the number eight Alabama Crimson Tide. Defensive coordinator and Auburn native David Gibbs says that you can feel the difference in the air when weeks like this roll around.

"It's fun to watch all the hoopla, obviously once the game starts you're caught up in a job you can't get caught up in all the traditions of the game," Gibbs says. "Getting to see it as a young boy growing up and now getting to be a part of it in this capacity is a dream come true for me. I know about Auburn-Alabama. I know the feelings that go on there. I know what to expect Saturday. It's not my first one."

The son of former Auburn offensive line coach Alex Gibbs, David Gibbs moved to Auburn when he was just over 10 years old and spent six years in town. He says that time gave him all the memories on the rivalry he needs to know how special this game is for both sides.

"I just remember the tempo of the game and the hitting of the game, the intensity," Gibbs says. "They've been brought up living and dying Auburn football and they play that way. You add in the recruiting battles that go on. You live in this state you're either an Auburn fan or an Alabama fan. There's no in between. That's not the case all over the rest of the country. In this state it's very important. We have to go out there and we have to play with them because they're a great football team."

A struggling offense coming into Saturday's game, Alabama doesn't appear to be a dangerous offense to the naked eye. That's not what Gibbs believes though. After watching them on film he says they are very deadly beginning with Brodie Croyle at quarterback.

"The best quarterback we'll see all year we're about to see," Gibbs says. "He can make all the throws. You watch the tape and they throw the ball deep more than anybody we play against. They throw the ball downfield. They're not hitting as many as they should be hitting, but they've got guys wide open. The pass rush is making him throw it too early and there's different circumstances, but they're a dangerous, dangerous football team."

Tommy Jackson will be playing his last game in Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Facing a dangerous passing game could be tough for Auburn after two weeks of less than stellar play, but Gibbs says he believes in his guys because of the effort they give on and off the field.

"These kids, they play hard," Gibbs says. "It's unbelievable to watch them play. I tell you what, these kids could have quit because Georgia is a good football team. They exposed us in some areas and I think we had to get cleaned up.

"I think we took the right step today to get it cleaned up. We just have to be more disciplined in our zone coverage and also get more pass rush. It's a combination of things. Anytime you can go into Athens, Ga. and come out with a W that's a big deal."

Working on all phases of the gameplan for Alabama, the Tigers worked on special teams and spent much of the day in team as they prepare to face their arch-rival. On the injury front the Tigers are fairly healthy heading into the season's 11th game with only center Joe Cope banged-up with a sprained ankle. That wasn't enough to keep him off the practice field though as he worked with the first unit along with junior Jonathan Palmer.

The news is also good at the skill positions on offense as Brad Lester, Courtney Taylor and Ben Obomanu all practiced and appear to be closer to 100 percent. Defensively Tommy Jackson is fine after being kicked in the shin against Georgia. That is important because of what he brings to the game in terms of both production and leadership.

Defensively the challenge this week for the Tigers is to play better than in recent weeks. In consecutive games against Kentucky and Georgia, Auburn has allowed over 300 yards passing and a total of 57 points. That's more than the Tigers had allowed in the previous five conference games to that point. Jackson says that even though there have been some breakdowns he doesn't see it as a concern heading into the Iron Bowl.

"I won't say that, there are some things we need to fix, but it is more than that," Jackson says. "You have got to understand that everybody is on scholarship and people are going to make plays. There are some things that we do need to clean up and by us watching film, now we know what is going on.

"We will fix that and a lot of it has been fixed so when we go out on Tuesday we will be able to--some of the things that we didn't like, maybe we'll throw them out and start over so I think we'll be fine."

Saturday's game is always the biggest one of the season each year in Alabama and this season is no different. While it's not as big as it could have been with both teams needing LSU to lose to advance to the SEC Championship game, Jackson says that they're not giving up hope and that means this game is for all the marbles.

"It is extremely important because we are not even ruling out that we are going to Atlanta yet, so there is no way that we are going into this game thinking that our season is over with," Jackson says. "We are playing this game as if, first of all it is the Iron Bowl anyway and that will hold weight by itself. So, the fact that we are still trying to go, hopefully, to Atlanta, it is going to be a huge game for us. We are trying our best to win and trying to accomplish some of the things that we set out to do in the beginning."

The Tigers will practice Wednesday and Thursday on campus before having a short walk-through on Friday afternoon. Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and can be seen on CBS.

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