Tigers Finish Preparations for Homecoming

A report on the Auburn football Tigers is featured as they prepare for the Paladins of Furman.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn finished preparations for Saturday's homecoming game vs. Furman with a light workout that lasted just over an hour on Thursday evening.

Auburn, 6-3, will take on the 4-4 Furman Paladins of the Southern Conference in a game that will kick off at 12:30 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik put the Tigers through a session in shorts and helmets doing a final tuneup of the offensive and defensive game plans while also working on special teams.

Chizik said he is really pleased with how senior tailback Ben Tate has stepped into a leadership role this season.

Coach Gene Chizik

Tate became the fifth player in Auburn history to reach the 3,000-mark for career rushing yards last Saturday. With 144 yards vs. Ole Miss, he has 3,026 and needs 343 more to pass Joe Cribbs (1976-79) for fourth place.

Number three on the list, James Brooks, rushed for 3,523 yards from 1977-80. At his current pace of 118.6 yards per game with three regular season games and a bowl game remaining, Tate would finish with 1,540 yards for this season, which would put him third in Auburn history behind Bo Jackson's 1,786 in 1985 and Rudi Johnson's 1,567 in 2000 for single season rushing yardage.

At his current pace, Tate would finish with 3,449 career yards.

Tate noted that he likes coordinator Gus Malzahn's offensive system. "I think this offense is suited for running backs like myself or Mario (Fannin), bigger type running backs," he said. "Coach likes to pound it."

The senior points out that Auburn is showing prospects the Tigers are recruiting that the team is running a good system for big tailbacks.

Tate also noted that he appreciates the larger number of carries he has had as a senior. He is averaging 21.4 rushes per game.

"To put up the numbers like I am doing this year, you also have to have the opportunity," he said. "Coach Malzahn and Coach Chizik have definitely given me the opportunity to showcase what I can do."

Auburn is a big favorite in the contest, but Chizik said the Paladins are a dangerous opponent and will have a chance to pull off an upset if the Tigers don't play well. "I just told them these are the games you have to play with energy," Chizik said. "That is the biggest thing. Going into these games if you are low energy and teams hang around and hang around and you turn the ball over and are sloppy, all of the sudden you look up in the fourth quarter and it is a close game and then it can go either way. That is what we can't do."

In other news:

*Furman, a traditional I-AA power located in Greenville, S.C., is playing two Division I programs in the same season for the first time since 1982. That year the Paladins lost to North Carolina State 26-0 in the opener and defeated South Carolina 28-23. Furman lost 52-12 at Missouri.

*In the loss to Missouri, the Paladins were out-gained 525 yards to 398. The Paladins completed 25-40 passes for 305 yards and gave up 329 yards through the air to Missouri, which ran the ball 36 times for 196 yards in that game.

*Division I-AA teams usually receive lucrative payouts to travel to play I-A teams with no return engagement. Furman is expected to pick up a check from Auburn for around $425,000 for Saturday's game.

*Furman linebacker Kadarron Anderson has been busy this season. He leads the Southern Conference in tackles with an average of 12.75 per game.

*One of Furman's top offensive players, Adam Mims, is a junior from Spain Park High School where he played with Auburn quarterback Neil Caudle. Mims has 55 catches for 613 yards and two touchdowns this season. For his career the All-Southern Conference player has 124 receptions for 1,444 yards and six scores. He also averages 12.5 yards per punt return and 19.6 yards per kickoff return.

*Another Furman all-league player who is from the Birmingham area, junior rover Max Lerner, has 49 tackles with two interceptions this season. Lerner, who was featured on MTV's "Two-A-Days" show as a senior at Hoover High, has 148 career tackles and six interceptions.

*Auburn's seniors will be honored in pre-game ceremonies on Saturday. "These seniors are a very resilient bunch and they have been through a lot of stuff," Chizik said. "They have been phenomenal in trying to be leaders or this team."

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