"We are going to have to stop the run," Gibbs explains. "Our coaches have stressed that all year, so we are just going to have to establish the line of scrimmage and stop the run. We need to set the tempo and have our linebackers fly around and make the plays."
The Tigers' defensive coordinator adds that having to deal with the Badgers' talented running back Brian Calhoun, who rushed for 1,423 yards and 21 TDs and added 536 yards receiving and two more scores, will make that a very tough task for the Tigers' defense.
Brian Calhoun is the big man offensively on the Wisconsin campus.
"He's a great runner with explosive speed, but he's also like having another wide receiver on the field," Gibbs says. " He's going to get the ball 30 or 40 times a game. You hear coaches say that a player can take it the distance every time he touches it…well this is a guy who can do it. He places a lot of pressure on your defense. You need to know where he is every play."
Gibbs also notes that having such a talented player in the backfield also opens up a lot of passing options for the Badgers. "Wisconsin has improved greatly in passing the ball off the run," he says. "Calhoun's so good, they can fake it to him and open up the passing game. It can be very stressful to opposing defenses."
Borges also predicts that the running game will play a major factor in the outcome of the contest. "I think taking care of the ball is at the top of the list," the offensive coordinator notes. "We can't turn the ball over and give Wisconsin a short field.
"Second, we have to establish the run to set up the pass. We're not looking for any specific numbers on running, but we have to establish the threat. Take care of the ball and establish the run."
Al Borges will be coaching his second bowl game at AU.
Along with taking care of the ball and establishing a solid rushing attack, Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox says simply staying within the Tigers' game plan will also be important.
"Play our game," Cox says about the Tigers' keys to success. "We don't look to put up big numbers, but we want to keep the defense out of trouble."
Borges adds that keeping the game plan simple for a bowl game can sometimes be a tough assignment, but is vital. "You have to be careful," he notes. "You have so much time and you have a tendency to put too many plays in the playbook. I played in several bowl games and I made that mistake in the past. We'll put in some new looks for the game, but no more than we do in a week-to-week basis. We don't believe you win by trying a bunch of tricks…it still comes down to execution."
Even though there is so much time between the end of the regular season and the bowl game, Borges says he believes the Tigers have handled the layoff very well. "I have been pleased with our practices and to be honest, I am extremely happy that we didn't seem to lose any of our timing," the coach notes. "Our kids have picked up where they left off and I hope that carries over to the game."
The Tigers' offensive coordinator adds that he believes that the coaching staff has worked out a good plan to take full advantage of the extra practice sessions. "Sometimes the gap between bowl game and regular season game is very beneficial," Borges notes. "A lot of coaches use it for a second spring practice and we did a little of that. But Coach Tuberville is a lot more concerned about getting us ready for the bowl game. He keeps a nice delicate balance."
Senior linebacker Travis Williams echoes Borges' sentiment about how seriously the Tigers are taking their preparations for a matchup with the Badgers. "We try to approach every game the same," the middle linebacker says. "We're allowed to have a little fun, but we can practice hard and focus. We know how to separate the two."
Williams adds that he and his teammates only have one goal in mind for Monday's Capital One Bowl. "It's getting to 10 wins," he says. "I think the SEC vs. Big Ten thing is for reporters to try to figure out which is the best conference. For us, it is getting ready for Wisconsin and trying to get out of here with a W."