A player who definitely sees the good in taking a extra days off is true freshman offensive tackle Lee Ziemba. Starting from the first game in his first season on the Plains, Ziemba says that the extra week has given the team a new outlook on the final game of the year.
"I think it did," Ziemba says. "It was 11 straight games and we were tired. It was long. It has been a blast, but it certainly wears on your body and mind. It came at a good time."
That is an understatement as the Tigers were a worn down football team after losing 45-20 on the road to Georgia in a game they were leading until late in the third quarter. Ziemba says it was tough to swallow offensively because the usually solid running game wasn't working that day. Georgia forced the Tigers into becoming one-dimensional and the results weren't good.
"There was a little confusion in terms of what was going on out there, what they were doing defensively," Ziemba says. "Also we weren't staying with our blocks on the second level. The first level we did fine and we blocked the defensive linemen fine. When we got to the linebackers we were hitting them, but not staying on them. It was making it tough to break a run."
With one final chance to redeem their fortunes on offense, Ziemba says the unit has been focused on improving every day out since the struggle in Athens. Playing their biggest rival in the biggest game of the year, Ziemba says it gives the Tigers a chance at redemption on the biggest of stages.
"It's kind of encouraging because we get one more chance to play before the bowl game," Ziemba says. "That's the neat thing about football is there is always another chance. If you get beat you've got another one. Even if you think about it on plays, if you get beat one play there is always the next play. That's why I love this game."
A player who loves the game and this rivalry is fellow true freshman tackle Ryan Pugh. Growing up in an Auburn family, Pugh has seen all this game and state has to offer and knows exactly what to expect despite having never played in the game. Because of that Ziemba and fellow freshman lineman Chaz Ramsey have heard it from Pugh all week long.
"He's pretty fired up," Ziemba says. "He's been telling us all week how big this game is and what it's like in the state because me and Chaz have never been in the state during something like this. We're a little excited."
Ziemba knows a little about the rivalry himself despite growing up in Arkansas. With Auburn parents, he says he's heard about the Iron Bowl his entire life and he's anxious to see how it plays out on the field.
"It's the biggest rivalry in the nation, football rivalry, that's for sure," Ziemba says. "It's known nationally. We hate them and they hate us."