Auburn, Ala.--Heading into the final regular season non-conference game of the year, Will Muchamp says that his defense had a solid week of practice for Arkansas State as the Indians travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium to tangle with the Tigers at 1:30 p.m.
"The kids are upbeat and we've had a good week of preparation," he notes. "We had a real spirited practice (Wednesday) night and we had and again (Thursday) morning. So we're looking forward to Saturday."
The Indians have potential on offense but have battled through consistency problems. After scoring 26 points against Memphis and 29 against North Texas in back to back weeks, Arkansas State was shut out by Florida Atlantic last Saturday.
"(Leonard) is a kid from Covington, La. who is an outstanding athlete," Muschamp says. "I recruited him out of high school a little bit there when I was at LSU. He's a kid that has great scrambling ability. They've suffered through some turnovers, obviously, and that's something that we're trying to emphasize this week as well. They're a team we need to go out and play well."
As a dual-threat quarterback Leonard has passed for 739 yards and four scores and has rushed for 191 yards and two TDs. He rushed for 77 yards in the 29-10 victory over North Texas, and tailback Reggie Arnold rushed for an additional 121 yards and three scores.
The week before against Memphis it was scatback Cedric Wilkerson who ran 23 times for 116 yards in the 26-23 thrilling victory over the Tigers that ended on a 53-yard hail mary for the Indians.
"They're pretty multiple," Muschamp explains. "They've done an awful lot throughout the year. They've been in situations where they've been in some two-back, some one-back, some four open receivers. They give you a little different variety of what they can do and what they think they can do against you. They run a lot of different ball plays and they give you a lot of stuff to look at."
Muschamp says that wild child Tray Blackmon will get the start at will linebacker.
Against the two other non-conference non-BCS schools, Buffalo and Tulane, the Tigers didn't look too spectacular on the defensive side of the ball even though they allowed seven and 13 points, respectively. Against yet another lesser quality team, Muschamp says the Tigers need to just take care of their own business against the Indians.
"We need to worry about Auburn," he says. "We need to line up and play well, improve each week, take a step forward each week and that's what we're trying to focus on right now. We've got a young team, too. Our kids are continuing to get better and we made some strides last week, and we need to continue to do so."
Muschamp's unit is fairly healthy considering Auburn is playing game number 10 in a row without an off week. One player who is not expected to be in the line-up is senior linebacker Kevin Sears, who sat out the first three games of the year and also missed last week's game against Ole Miss with a hamstring injury.
"He's just got to get healthy," Muschamp says of Sears. "It's been frustrating for all of us. We're hurting for him because he's a good player and he's certainly a guy who could have contributed a lot for us this year. It just hasn't happened for him. We've got three big games left and he'll probably be out for Saturday. We've got Georgia and Alabama left and he'll be a contributor in those games."