Johnson And Tigers Getting Ready For LSU

Tight end Robert Johnson talks about LSU and what Auburn needs to do to win heading into Saturday's game as the Tigers continue to prepare for the defending SEC champs.

Auburn, Ala.--Tight end Robert Johnson hasn't forgotten the reception nor the game last year in Baton Rouge when the Tigers lost their chance at playing in the SEC Championship game by falling to LSU 27-14. Playing in front of a hostile and sometimes ruthless crowd, the big junior said that he believes this year is going to be different both on the field and off as Auburn prepares to host the 10th-ranked Tigers in a key SEC Western Division game.

"This game is on the field," Johnson said. "All that outside stuff shouldn't really bother an athlete at all. It's all about the ‘W' and the ‘L.' It's not outside the field. I hope we just come out and get prepared, play to the best of our abilities, and use these two losses (Arkansas and Florida) as something to work on."

Johnson and the Auburn offense face a major challenge this week going up against a LSU defense that has been stifling for much of the season. Allowing just 217.4 yards per contest and 11 points, the tough Tiger defense led by linebacker Bradie James presents a tough foe for Auburn, but Johnson said his team is prepared to answer the challenge this week. That will be especially important up front where Auburn is coming off one of its best performances of the season against Florida when sophomore Ronnie Brown filled in for an injured Carnell Williams to rush for 163 yards.

"Every game the most physical team and the team that executes the best is going to come out victorious," Johnson noted. "I think if we come out and be the more physical team. LSU has one of the best defenses I've heard. We're just going to have to come out and play hard."

Tight end Robert Johnson is coming off a solid three-catch, 40-yard performance against Florida Saturday night. The big junior has 41 catches in his career for 561 yards.

Brown will likely be the key for Auburn in the game. The only blemish on LSU's record this season came in the season opener at Virginia Tech when the combination of Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns on the way to a 26-8 victory. Showing that a physical team can have success against this defense, Johnson said he believes that Brown can repeat what he did in Gainesville if everyone up front does their job.

"Ronnie Brown is a great back," Johnson said. "He's just kind of overshadowed because of Carnell getting as many touches as he does. I never doubted that he would come out and do what he could do. We call him ‘Sweet Feet.' He showcased that to the fullest Saturday and I'm proud of him. We're just going to come out this week and work hard and hopefully we can use the positive things we had the last two games that we've lost as a motivating factor in this game against LSU."

Continuing to polish the game plan for LSU, the Tigers practiced for just over two hours in full pads Wednesday in a steady but light rain. Coach Tommy Tuberville said following the workout that he was pleased with what he saw out of both the offense and defense during the day, but in particular the kicking game.

"We had a good, wet practice today," Tuberville said. "We put the finishing touches on our game plan. We worked a lot on our kicking game today and today was a big short yardage offensive and defensive day. Everybody was out practicing. Spencer Johnson was out moving around pretty good. He's better than he was this time last week.

"Philip Yost has had a good week. He's missed one field goal out of about 14. He looks like he's taking it in stride. Damon (Duval) has had a good week of punting. This might work out the best for everybody splitting it up instead of one guy doing it all."

The quarterback situation remains unchanged after Wednesday's practice as both Jason Campbell and Daniel Cobb shared the snaps with the first team unit and will continue to do so until Saturday's kickoff. "Both Jason and Daniel have practiced well," Tuberville said. "You can just tell they're getting a lot more confidence, both of them, in what they are doing. We'll make a later day choice in who's going to be our starter."

The decision to make Yost the kicker may prove to be a significant move for Auburn in the coming weeks as Duval concentrates more on his punting game. Wednesday he looked to be more focused on his punting and was particularly impressive in kicking the ball higher and to the sidelines. That is a key this week as Domanick Davis awaits kicks for LSU, the leading punt return man in the SEC and third in the country averaging 19.1 yards per return with one touchdown.

"This is the most dangerous kick returner we'll see all year," Tuberville said of Davis. "They do a good job with all their special teams so we're going to have to do a good job on coverage teams and return teams. Obviously, the big one is when you have to punt you have to make sure you have good coverage."

One of Auburn's reserve return men, wide receiver Joe Walkins, is not practicing with the team and will not dress out for the LSU game. The redshirt sophomore is considering a transfer in search of playing time. He has not seen action this year. He was limited in spring training with two injuries and missed the first half of the season with a thigh injury that required surgery. AU coaches have told Walkins to take some time to think about his situation before making a final decision on his future plans.

Kickoff for Saturday's game against LSU is set for 11:30 a.m. and can be seen on Jefferson Pilot Sports. Tiger Walk is scheduled to begin at 9:20 with former Tigers Al Del Greco and Kevin Greene the guests of honor.


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