Offensive Injuries Could Change Auburn's Plans

Coach Bobby Petrino discusses Saturday's loss to Georgia and the injury situation.

Auburn, Ala.--After watching the film from Saturday's heartbreaking 24-21 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs, Coach Bobby Petrino said on Sunday that he thought his troops came out and gave it all they had.

Fighting through injuries to Ronnie Brown and fullback Brandon Johnson, the Tigers controlled the game for three quarters, but didn't have an answer late in the loss.

"I thought our guys came out and played real hard. We had a good plan and we executed it early. Jason (Campbell) and Ronnie made some big plays running the ball. Our offensive line did a nice job in the first three quarters and then when the intensity of the game got going we lost a little bit of our technique and fundamentals. They had more success in the fourth quarter than we did."

Banged up on both sides of the ball but in particular on offense, the Tigers went back to work Sunday with a short practice just to get the kinks out and introduce some of the game plan for Alabama.

Defensively, linebacker Karlos Dansby was held out after spraining an ankle Saturday, but will be available for the Alabama game. Cornerback Roderick Hood also sprained an ankle and will be ready to play as well.

The same can't be said for defensive end Mayo Sowell, who is likely out for the season with a knee injury. He will be evaluated by Dr. James Andrews this week and his status will be determined after that. Without him expect Bret Eddins to see even more playing time and Dexter Murphy to move back outside as well as see some time at tackle.

With Johnson and Brown both sitting out and Campbell bothered by a sprained ankle suffered late in the game, Petrino said it was a tough night for his offense and it was good to get back on the practice field Sunday.

Quarterback Jason Campbell

"It was a good battle," Petrino said of Saturday. "It was a physical game. I don't know if you can have much more of a physical game than that. We should have made a couple more plays and we would have come out on top."

Petrino is preparing to face an Alabama defense that has dominated everyone it has faced this season in terms of running the ball, giving up just 84.1 yards per game. Currently ranked first in the country in total defense, the Tide will be a tough challenge for an Auburn team that could be without a key cog to its offense in Johnson. The lead blocker and basis for the power running game, Johnson's loss could mean a change in philosophy for Petrino this week.

"I think we'll have to look at that day-to-day," Petrino said. "Right now we would have to prepare a game plan ready to go. We're getting awful thin, but we'll definitely get them ready to go and I expect us to come out and play real hard. We're going to have to tinker with a few things, I think, and get our tight ends involved more. We have to get Cooper Wallace cranked up and get a lot more reps than he's been getting and we'll go from there."

Something that was evident Saturday was a more aggressive approach by Campbell in the running game, particularly the option and quarterback draws. Because of Georgia's strong pass rush and talented linemen, Auburn hoped to get the sophomore quarterback on the move to put pressure on the defense. It worked with Campbell finishing the night with 72 yards rushing, including a 21-yard touchdown.

"We went into the game thinking he was going to be one of our weapons running the football," Petrino said. "Particularly early in the game we wanted to get off to a good start with that and he did a nice job of it."

Petrino said that whether that will be the plan this week he isn't sure yet, but with Alabama's strong front four, Campbell will have to make some plays out of the pocket this week for the Tigers to get a victory. While his ankle is swollen and bothered him on Sunday, Campbell said there is no doubt in his mind that he'll be ready to play this weekend against Auburn's biggest rival.

"I hurt it in the end of the game but towards the end of the game I was still moving on it because it had not gotten stiff," Campbell said. "Once I got home and sat around it got stiff and started swelling. I'll be ready by Saturday. Sometime you have to play when you are hurt. I think this is the time when you have to do that."

Auburn will take Monday off before returning to practice Tuesday in preparation for Alabama. Kickoff for Saturday's game is set for 2:30 p.m. and can be seen on CBS.

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