Chizik Says Georgia Game Big for Recruiting

Comments from Auburn's head football coach and news and notes from practice are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn worked on the game plan for two hours on Wednesday evening as the Tigers continued preparations for the SEC's oldest football rivalry.

Coach Gene Chizik said he liked what he saw as his 7-3 Tigers worked out in shorts, helmets and shoulder pads preparing for their Saturday evening game at 5-4 Georgia.

"As you would expect it has been a pretty spirited week," Chizik said. "I think our guys are excited about playing these type of games. Obviously, we do have a good bit of work to do. We have had two, actually three, good days of practice."

Chizik said he is well aware of the nature of the Auburn vs. Georgia rivalry coaching in three of the games from 2002-2004 as Auburn's defensive coordinator. "Our guys get that," Chizik said. "We have quite a few Georgia kids on our roster now. For recruiting, I think it is really important. All of the Georgia recruits we are recruiting are sure going to have their eyes on this game. I don't know it doesn't necessarily determines who gets them, but I?think the importance of the game is there and we realize that."

Georgia is tied for 10th in scoring defense in this week's SEC statistics, but Auburn quarterback Chris Todd says that he sees plenty of talented players lining up for the Bulldogs. "They have a lot of athletes across the board," he says. "They have size up front and they have speed behind."

The Auburn coach said it was "huge" to give his starters the second half off in the Homecoming win over Furman so they will have fresher legs heading to Athens against the favored Bulldogs. Chizik said he also thought it was good for team morale as the backups got all of the playing time in the third and fourth quarters.

Statistically, it looks like Saturday's game could be high scoring. Georgia and Arkansas are giving up 26.1 points per game, which ties them for 10th in the conference. Auburn is last in the league in scoring defense allowing 26.6 points per game. The Tigers and Florida are tied for second in scoring at 35.0 points per game. Arkansas leads the league at 35.6 points per game.

In other news:

*Chizik said that he is impressed with the talent on Georgia's front seven on defense. He contends that the Tigers won't see better tackles than they are facing this week and says the ends are athletic, too. "It is going to be a battle down there with their guys and our guys," he stated. "We expect that."

*Chizik said no decision has been made on who will be Auburn's punt returner this week after Philip Pierre-Louis lost a fumble vs. Furman.. The head coach has personally taken charge of coaching the position this week after struggles with that part of special teams play. "Right now it will be a game-time decision," said Chizik. "I don't know exactly what direction we are going to go at this point."

*One of the possibilities at punt returner, freshman Anthony Gulley, has worked on both offense and defense this week with more time at cornerback than wide receiver. He is filling in on defense on a temporary basis with Demond Washington making the move from cornerback to safety last week.

*Secondary coaches Tommy Thigpen and Phillip Lolley both had praise for Washington after Wednesday's practice. Thigpen said that the junior has done a great job of learning his assignments and being physical at safety. Lolley notes that Washington can play every position in the secondary.

*Freshman wide receiver Travante Stallworth, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last Saturday is "doing great," Chizik said. Stallworth, whose playing time had been increasing, is not expected back until next season after having surgery. "Mentally he is as good as you can expect a guy to be at this point," added Chizik, who said that the prognosis is for a complete recovery.

*Wide receiver coach Trooper Taylor had praise for a couple of his players after Wednesday's practice. He said that Tim Hawthorne has had a good week catching the football in the slot receiver slot and could share playing time this week with Tommy Trott.

Taylor said that he continues to be impressed with sophomore Darvin Adams, who caught three TD passes last week. Taylor said that Adams is a smart player who practices just like he is playing in a game.

*Taylor also predicted big things in the future for receiver DeAngelo Benton after he made six catches vs. Furman. He said the freshman's play on Homecoming relaxed the receiver and it looks like he has had 100 pounds of weight dropped off his back.

*Two Auburn players already have more total tackles than last year's leader, Zac Etheridge, who finished the 2008 season with 75 stops. Craig Stevens has 79 through 10 games and Josh Bynes is close behind with 77. Etheridge made 53 tackles before being lost for the season early in game eight with an injury vs. Ole Miss.

*Stevens and Bynes are two of seven players who have started every game on defense this year for the Tigers. The group includes linemen Antonio Coleman and Jake Ricks plus cornerbacks Walt McFadden and Neiko Thorpe plus safety Daren Bates.

*On offense five players have started every game. The group includes linemen Lee Ziemba, Ryan Pugh, Mike Perry and Andrew McCain along with quarterback Chris Todd.

*The Tigers have kicked off 66 times this season and have five touchbacks, a statistic that could be a problem with the Bulldogs having one of the nation's better kickoff return groups.

*Saturday's game will be televised at 6 p.m. CST on ESPN2.

*Auburn quarterback Todd is ranked sixth in SEC passing efficiency this week with a 146.5 rating. Number one on the list is Ryan Mallett of Arkansas at 156.6, a fraction of a point ahead of Florida's Tim Tebow. His favorite target, Darvin Adams, is ranked fourth in the SEC in receiving yards per game with 62.7. Georgia's A.J. Green is number one with 91.5. Lolley said that no matter how you try to cover Green, the UGA sophomore is a great football player.

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