Ziemba Likes Challenge of Playing on the Road

Auburn freshman offensive tackle Lee Ziemba talks about the running game and facing Georgia on the road.

Athens, Ga.--Playing for nine consecutive weeks, the Auburn Tigers welcomed I-AA Tennessee Tech last week with open arms. Not only was it a chance to play a game that was more than likely not to be decided in the final minutes, it was also a prime opportunity to play the reserves on both sides of the ball.

Normally that would mean playing younger players, but for this year's Auburn Tigers that's not necessarily the case. On offense freshmen Lee Ziemba, Chaz Ramsey, Ryan Pugh, Tim Hawthorne, Chris Slaughter and Mario Fannin all see considerable playing time in addition to sophomores Tommy Trott, Gabe McKenzie, Benjamin Tate and Montez Billings.

Defensively it's the same story as freshmen Antoine Carter, Mike Blanc, Zach Clayton, Michael Goggans, Josh Bynes, Bo Harris, Craig Stevens, Zac Etheridge, Michael McNeil and Walter McFadden have already seen significant playing time this season.

While they are young and full of energy, players such as Ziemba still tend to get worn down because they're not used to the grind of big-time college football. Because of that the Arkansas native and starting right tackle says it was good to have a down week.

"Last week was a good week for us," Ziemba says. "It was made to get our legs back under us and to get better. I think we did that. I think everybody feels fresh. This week the intensity picked up, even in the Sunday practice. We've just gotten after it all week."

The one negative from last week's game was the inability to establish the run against a smaller defensive front from Tennessee Tech. Although they had a sizeable advantage up front, the Tigers managed just 115 rushing yards on 36 carries, something Ziemba says has to change this week if they hope to win on the road at Georgia.

"That has been our identity all year is to be able to come off the ball and run the ball," Ziemba says. "Last week we didn't do that. I don't think we were quite as focused as we need to be. That has to change and this week it will change. This is a rivalry game and it's important to us. We just have to come off the ball and do everything Coach (Hugh) Nall says and dominate."

If anyone can get the offensive line fired up this week then Nall is the man. A former Georgia player and starter at center on the 1980 National Championship team, Ziemba says Nall has been more active than normal this week and that's what it takes in a huge game such as this one coming up.

"He's been a little on edge, but he's the same way I was during the Arkansas week," Ziemba says. "I can relate to that. We've got a lot of improving to do and Coach Nall is going to make sure we do that."

For Auburn to get a win, it will have to continue its impressive play on the road under Coach Tommy Tuberville and its success traditionally in Athens. Since 2004 Auburn has won 13 of 15 games on the road with both losses coming at LSU. That is the second-best record in the country, trailing only Texas' 15-1 record over that time. In games at Sanford Stadium Auburn has been almost as good, winning six of the last seven in Athens and 18-9 overall. Ziemba says there is just something about playing away from home that drives this team and he's hoping it continues this weekend.

"I love it," Ziemba says. "They are so much fun. I love playing in Jordan-Hare, but there is just something about going away and quieting stadiums. It's a lot of fun. I think it brings out the best in us. We just king of feed off of it. It's a change of pace, a change of scenery. It's exciting."

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