"They are very physical," Auburn offensive tackle Lee Ziemba said when talking about the Alabama defensive front. "They are very disciplined. It is going to require a very good game from us up front to beat them."
Auburn's focus has been on resting and recovering from a disappointing loss at Georgia and using an extra week of preparation to get ready for Friday's Iron Bowl game that will kick off at 1:30 p.m. CST at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The Tigers practiced three days last week, watched video on another day and were off three days before returning to the practice field on Sunday night. "It is always nice to get a few days off, especially this late in the season when everybody is kind of worn out," Ziemba said.
Defensive coordinator Ted Roof said he could tell the Tigers were practicing for a big game on Sunday night as the Tigers worked out for more than two hours in helmets and shoulder pads. "There was a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of energy," Roof said. "You would expect that. Certainly the Iron Bowl is as huge a game is there is in college football. I saw some recharged batteries and it was good for our players to be able to do that."
Roof is hoping that starting linebacker Eltoro Freeman, who was injured in the Georgia game, will be able to play on Saturday. If Freeman can't play, true freshman Jonathan Evans is the only other healthy scholarship linebacker available.
Freeman, who suffered a concussion and hurt his foot in the Georgia game, "took mental reps," Roof said after Sunday night's practice.
Roof said the Auburn defense will have to contend with an Alabama rushing attack that is very consistent and a running back (Mark Ingram) who breaks a lot of tackles.
The Tigers will be back on the practice field on Monday preparing for Friday's game against the SEC's top defense.
This will be Ziemba's third time to start in the Auburn vs. Alabama rivalry, which he said feels like a high school "state championship game on steroids" because of the intensity of the teams and the fans. "It is pretty amazing,"?he notes.
As a true freshman Ziemba played right tackle as the Tigers won 17-10 in Auburn for their sixth straight victory over the Tide. Last year in Tuscaloosa the Tigers finished a dreadful season with a 36-0 loss to the Tide.
"It was just the way the season went all year what happened over there last year," Ziemba recalls. "It was tough on us, especially since it was our last game we got to think about that for a year. It was on our minds all year up until our first game this year. It was just a terrible way to wrap up a bad year last year."
The Tigers head into this year's Iron Bowl game with a 7-4 record. Alabama is 11-0 after having no trouble defeating Chattanooga 45-0 last Saturday.
The Tigers moved the ball well at times vs. Georgia, but hurt themselves with penalties and other errors allowing the Bulldogs to pull out a 31-24 comeback victory. "We just have to get 11 people doing the right things at one time," the tackle says. "We would have 10 guys doing it right all of time and one guy messing it up or something like that. If we are going to get this clicking we are going to need all 11 guys to do the little things right."