Tigers Wrap Up On-Campus Bowl Preparations

The Auburn football Tigers worked on Tuesday before heading home for Christmas. Comments from Gene Chizik and Northwestern's coach are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's focus was squarely on its bowl opponent on Tuesday as Gene Chizik's football team wrapped up its on-campus preparations for a New Year's Eve date in the Outback Bowl.

"I thought it was very productive as far as the whole eight days of practice and what-not," Chizk said. "We finished on a very good note today, I feel like. They will have the next three days off and we will meet back in Tampa on the 26th."

"The last day being today I thought the focus was there and I think they did a nice job," Chizik added.

The Auburn coach said the workout in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts/sweat pants was all about preparing for the Northwestern Wildcats. "It was all game plan stuff today," he noted. "We didn't do a whole bunch of work on the young guys today.

"We just wanted to get out there and get focused on trying to work some special teams," he said. "We got some really good work offensively and defensively on red zone stuff and some third down stuff. It was all focused on Northwestern."

Senior running back Ben Tate is carried off the field at his final on-campus practice.

Chizik emphasized that he wants the players to have a good time in Tampa, but also noted that the Tigers are serious about trying to win the game. "We are going to prepare, we are going to prepare well down there," he said. "I think they are locked in and focused on that idea.

"We also want to have it be a reward with some of the functions they are able to do," he said. "It is a reward. There is a fine line in there. I hope we can find it, but I feel good about the focus of our team and I think that is where it all starts."

Coach Gene Chizik addresses his team at the end of Tuesday's practice.

In other news:

*Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, who has a 27-22 record in four seasons in charge of the Big Ten program, says from studying video of the Tigers he has an obvious concern. "I am really impressed with Auburn's team speed," he says. "They are obviously a very athletic football team." The Outback Bowl matchup will be the first ever football contest between the Tigers and Wildcats.

*Fitzgerald notes his team has gotten a lot accomplished in bowl practice with no classes to deal with and a lack of injury problems, something that plagued his team early in the season. "We are as healthy as we have been all season," he says.

*Auburn has a 19-13-2 record in bowl games. The Tigers had received bowl bids for eight consecutive seasons prior to 2008. That streak was one shy of the school record that started at the Tangerine Bowl (now the Capital One Bowl) in Orlando.

*Chris Todd goes into the bowl game ranked third among SEC quarterbacks in passing efficiency with a rating of 146.5 behind Ryan Mallet (157.8) from Arkansas and Tim Tebow (155.6) from Florida. Todd is ranked 21st nationally among Division I passers. Northwestern is allowing opponents to pass for 266.1 yards per game and rush for 123.5 per game.

*Darvin Adams has a chance to move up in the SEC receiving statistics with a good performance in Tampa. He is averaging 71.2 receiving yards per contest, which is fourth in the league. Number three is Greg Childs of Arkansas with 71.8 yards per game.

*The Tigers have scored 395 points this season, which ties them with the 1986 squad for the fourth most in an Auburn season. The record is 438 scored in 1995. Number two is 420 points scored by the unbeaten 2004 team and number three is 398 points scored by the 1996 Tigers.

*The players, who received mileage checks before breaking for Christmas, are responsible for getting to Tampa on their own. The size of the checks is based on how far they have to travel from their hometowns to Tampa. The team is due at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on the evening of the 26th. They will have a team dinner at an Outback Steakhouse before heading out to see the Tampa Bay Lightning play the Atlanta Thrashers in a National Hockey League game. Their first practice at the bowl site will be on Thursday morning at the University of Tampa.

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