Tuberville: LSU a Fun and Tough Opponent

Comments from Auburn's head football coach are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Tommy Tuberville, who has a 4-3 record vs. LSU as head coach at Auburn, says the sixth-ranked Bayou Bengals have the full attention of AU's coaches and players as they prepare for Saturday's SEC football showdown at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"Going into this game, LSU, it's always a fun week," says Tuberville, who is 6-5 vs. that team including his time as Ole Miss head coach. "It's a fun game. The players enjoy it and the coaches enjoy it. It's always hard fought and well played, and it usually has some significance as to who possibly would have the opportunity to go to Atlanta from the Western Division.

"Both of us still have a lot of games to play, but we are looking forward to the challenge," Auburn's coach notes. "It will be a big challenge. LSU has a good football team. They have had two blowout victories the first two weeks. They looked awfully good. They have a lot of continuity back on offense with their quarterbacks and a good running game. They have a lot of continuity back on their defense. They have improved last year's defense. It will be a challenge for us."

The winner of the Auburn vs. LSU has played in the SEC Championship Game five of the last six seasons. LSU represented the SEC West last year as it tied Auburn at 7-1 in the league, but won the head-to-head tiebreaker with its 20-17 overtime win in Baton Rouge.

"They are all big ones," Tuberville says. "We know the size of this game. They are always great football games and we look forward to the challenge. After last week's game, we've made some improvements from the first week and we are still not as good as we possibly can be, but we are working toward being a better team this week."

Auburn is coming into its second SEC game after blanking Mississippi State 34-0 last Saturday in Starkville. LSU overwhelmed Arizona by a 45-3 count in a game that was in the bag by halftime.

Tuberville says he is expecting an intense game on Saturday before a national TV audience on CBS for the 2:30 p.m. CDT contest, which will be LSU's SEC opener.

"The challenge of playing a Top 10 team, a major opponent or a big rival game, is you go in and obviously both teams are going to be physical. The biggest thing I work on as the head coach is to make sure we are mentally ready to play. There are always some new things you might do, but when it comes down to it, it's usually execution by the players and how they play and how consistent they are.

"This week we will work on a lot of things that we have been working on already, but continuing to work on our mental attitude approaching this game. I think that will be very important."

Auburn has won six of its last seven games vs. Top 10 opponents. Commenting on that, Tuberville says, "The biggest thing that we do is we don't practice any different. We don't put any more hours into the game plan. We work a little bit more mentally on our players about how to play the game. For instance, this game could come down to someone jumping offsides or one mental mistake by a linebacker or a mental mistake by a back. It just comes that close.

"Two years ago, we beat them here 10-9 and they had a mental mistake on a guy trying to block an extra point. Is it going to make a difference? You don't know. But as coaches, to me, that is how you coach a big game. I learned that from some guys that I coached with in the past--Jimmy Johnson being one of those--that you mentally have to prepare your team to play a game like this.

"They are going to play, the effort and the physical abilities are going to be there. You have to make sure that they play within their limits and handle each play mentally as well as what they do with their legs, arms and feet. There is a lot of thinking that goes on in these games. We want them to be prepared in that way, not just from the standpoint of blocking and tackling."

LSU has played both of its games at home this year. The opener was a 45-3 victory over Louisiana-LaFayette.

Tuberville says one of the interesting facets of this week's game is the matchup of new Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, a former LSU coach, vs. LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, a former Auburn assistant coach. Muschamp coached with the Miami Dolphins in 2005, but the previous year was defensive coordinator in Baton Rouge.

"There is going to be a lot of talk about Coach Muschamp vs. Coach Fisher, two buddies who have coached with each other and are now coaching against each other," Tuberville says. "Will that make a difference? I think it will be just another storyline for this game. The players will be the ones who decide the outcome of this game, but it's good to know that our coach knows a little bit about what they do and how they've done it and has some familiarities with their offense."


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