Led by powerful running backs Anthony Dixon and Christian Ducre, the Bulldogs are one of the few remaining power teams not only in the SEC but the entire country. Auburn defensive ends coach Terry Price said because of that it makes for a very different week for the Tiger defense.
"We really had a good day yesterday and I thought we had a good day this morning," Price said. "It's different preparation because it's a physical football team. It's obviously a lot more pad popping and lot more physical contact. I think that's good for our defense. It's gone good so far. I think we're ready to play a physical football game."
Surprisingly through two games this season Mississippi State is averaging 153.5 yards on the ground and 221 through the air behind sophomore quarterback Wesley Carroll. Opening up the playbook some through two games, the Bulldogs have given Carroll more freedom on offense but Price said when push comes to shove Mississippi State isn't going to be too fancy.
"This is kind of a day where everybody runs the spread offense," Price said. "They are one of the few teams that's an old throwback team. They're going to get their sleeves rolled up and get two tight ends and two backs and try to run the ball right at you.
"It's really different from a lot of teams in the SEC. I enjoy it as a defensive line coach because it's a physical running game and a challenge for us up front. I think for us to be successful we have to play physical and hard up front. That's the key this week."
Gabe McKenzie is enjoying his new role on defense.
Heading into this week's contest Auburn's defensive ends have been very productive with junior Antonio Coleman currently second on the team with 11 tackles and leading the way with two sacks. Michael Goggans has six stops in two games on the strong side with former tight end Gabe McKenzie right behind him with four tackles. Still feeling his way around at the position, Price said McKenzie is coming along nicely and should continue to improve and help the Tigers.
"He's still a work in progress," Price said. "He's very, very eager. It's a lot to learn in four weeks getting ready for a season without having spring practice or two-a-days to work with. He learns a lot every day. Every day is a process but the kid is very eager to learn. He's come along. He's going to provide us quality snaps and every Saturday he'll get better and better."
Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 6 p.m. and can be seen nationally on ESPN2.