Auburn practiced for 90 minutes in its final workout before Saturday's 2:30 p.m. game vs. LSU at Jordan-Hare Stadium that will feature the top two ranked teams in the SEC.
"The guys had a lot of enthusiasm this morning," Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville says. "We had a good practice. It has been a real good week of practice. The guys are focused. They understand what it is going to take as well as what I am sure Coach (Les) Miles is telling his guys down there (at LSU). We are looking forward to a great day."
The Auburn coach notes that he could tell at practices throughout the week his players are taking this game very seriously. "You can tell the differences in weeks," he says. "This has been a very attentive week with all of the players."
Tuberville says his Tigers are healthy and so is LSU. "It should be a well played game," he says. "It is always one of those where both teams come out fast. They don't come out slow."
Auburn senior wide receiver Courtney Taylor, one of the heroes of Auburn's 10-9 victory over LSU two years ago at Jordan-hare Stadium, says this week's opponent is going to be extra tough.
"It is going to be a fist fight," Taylor says. "The last two years it has been close. It has been overtime, it has been a one-point win. We know we are in for a dogfight. We know we are going to get their best shot and we are going to give them our best shot."
LSU has one of the strongest secondaries in the SEC with seniors LaRon Landry and Jessie Daniels at the safety spots and juniors Jonathan Zenon and Chevis Jackson the cornerbacks. That quartet is a key reason LSU is giving up just three points and 164 total yards per game after victories over Louisiana-LaFayette and Arizona. Zenon has returned interceptions for scores in both LSU games this season. He is believed to be the first LSU player to do that in at least three decades.
"Their corners they have got experience," Taylor says. "They have got some new guys over there, but at the same time from what I have watched they are quick as a cat. They remind me of Auburn DBs and I always say our DBs to me are probably the best in the league.
"We have the two best cornerbacks--(Jonathan) Wilhite and (David) Irons," Taylor says. "I think it is kind of an advantage to us. They press a lot and that is all our defense does is press. We know what to expect and we are going against good corners like ours."
"The first two games we didn't have that," Taylor points out. "It was off coverage and whatever. This game is going to be a lot more press coverage."
Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who was defensive coordinator at LSU two seasons ago, says a key for success will be to keep LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell from buying extra time to find receivers by scrambling. "This guy gets out of the pocket and does an outstanding job of getting the ball down the field in those situations," Muschamp says. "He creates a lot of plays.
"He is going to hit his throws because he is a good player and has good wideouts, but we can't let him have the deep ball down the field, especially on scramble situations."
Tommy Tuberville holds a Thursday copy of the sports section from USA Today that features an article on LSU star JaMarcus Russell. Auburn's coaches showed the article to a variety of his players.
Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges says, "They are good. They are legitimate. They are better in the secondary than Mississippi State was and just as good everywhere else so we have just got to keep the chains moving and keep the defense off the field the best we can.
"We will see if we can't pick our shots to do some damage," Borges adds. "It isn't going to be easy. It is going to be a fist fight."
In other news:
*Dating back to LSU's bowl rout of Miami, the Bayou Bengals have gained at least 450 yards of total offense for three straight contests. Last week vs. Arizona in Baton Rouge the Bayou Bengals finished with 461.
*Keeping the LSU rushing game in check and not letting the visitors get a halftime lead should be points of emphasis for Tuberville's Tigers. LSU is 26-1 since 2000 when one of its backs rushes for at least 100 yards. During that same time period, the Bayou Bengals are 51-4 when leading at halftime.
*So far this season three LSU running backs have 16 carries apiece. That group includes 6-0, 250 Alley Broussard, 5-10, 223 Justin Vincent and 6-0, 228 Jacob Hester. Broussard, who missed the 2005 season with a knee injury, has rushed for 76 yards, Hester has netted 74 and Vincent has 52. However, true freshman Charles Scott, who is 5-11, 221 pounds, is the top rusher with 86 yards on nine carries.
*LSU has played a sizeable group of true freshmen this year that includes wide receiver and returner Trindon Holliday, WR Ricky Dixon, WR Chris Mitchell, WR Jared Mitchell RB Charles Scott, RB Keiland Williams, TE Richard Dickson, DB Danny McCary, LB Jacob Cutrera, LB Perry Riley and DT Al Woods.
*Auburn has played six games in its history against opponents ranked sixth by AP, which is LSU's ranking this week. Auburn has a 3-3 record in those games. LSU is Auburn's highest ranked opponent since play a fifth-ranked LSU team in 2004.
*Tuberville has a 12-10 record at Auburn against Top 10 opponents.
*Tuberville notes that Auburn vs. LSU games are physical affairs. "I talked to our equipment manager this morning and he says usually after this game they have to fix more helmets, buckles, straps and laces than any other game. That is always a sign of guys turning it loose."