Short Week A Challenge For Tigers

Auburn coach Gene Chizik talks about the win over Arkansas State and preparing for Mississippi State with a short week to work with.

Auburn, Ala.--There is little question that a win is a win, but for the Auburn Tigers that's especially the case as a quick turnaround to face Mississippi State on the road Thursday night means plenty of work and no time to gloat about the 52-26 triumph. With just three true practice days to get ready for a Bulldog squad that thumped Memphis in its opener, coach Gene Chizik said it's a challenge to get ready for a Thursday night game.

"Obviously you have to be a little bit creative in how you do some scheduling," Chizik said. "You have to be smart. What did you come away with last night in terms of bumps and bruises? All of those things come into play. You've got to be smart in how you proceed. You can't do too much but you can't do too little as we all know. We've got a very limited amount of time to prepare. We prepared some over the summer but it's a challenging week."

Before moving forward there are plenty of things to correct for the Tigers coming off the opening night win. One of those is on defense where Arkansas State torched them for over 300 yards passing. That's a concern with so many veteran guys in the secondary, but Chizik said he thought the guys got better as the game went along.

That's especially the case with safeties Zac Etheridge, Mike McNeil and Aairon Savage. All of them have missed significant playing time the last year with McNeil and Savage both out the entire 2009 season. Being careful to ease them back in this preseason the Tigers didn't scrimmage much with those three in action and Chizik said it may have caused them to be a little rusty to start with on Saturday.

"I think even if you talked to them they might feel like they were a little bit rusty," Chizik said. "They are going to get better and better. We've got to tackle better. It's the first time they've been in a game and seeing everything live and fast-paced for the first time. There were some new things in there last night that offensively were different for us. I think as the game went along they all adapted and adjusted well. Obviously all of them have to play better than we did last night."

Coming off a record setting performance in his first game at Auburn, junior quarterback Cameron Newton is one of the hot names in college football at the moment. While he did some very good things Chizik said Newton is far from where they hope to get him as a player.

"I was really proud of Cameron for a lot of reasons," Chizik said. "Number one he protected the football. He didn't throw the ball up for grabs. He made some good decisions with the ball. I thought he managed the offense. That's what we asked him to do. What we knew and still know is that he's athletic enough to make something when there's not. Some of the offense last night was offense by accident which involved him. That's the chance you take defensively when you decide to blitz or do some things. If you're playing man coverage and he breaks the pocket he can run for a long ways. He did a good amount of that too. He's got a lot of work to do and he'll tell you that. He knows that after seeing the film today. For a first game he did what we asked him to do to win the game."

Because of the struggles last season in the punt return game, one of the bright spots on Saturday night was the play of junior Quindarius Carr. With five attempts for 47 yards Carr is almost halfway to Auburn's team total of 107 punt return yards last season. Chizik said he was proud of the way the Huntsville native stepped up his game.

"I think some of it is some confidence from the end of last year," Chizik said. "Some of it is confidence from the spring. He did some nice things in two-a-days. We want to see him do it on game day. For him being back there as the first time as a punt returner, not just catching the ball but making decisions, he saved one ball that could have been downed on the one or two-yard line. Those things didn't occur last year. I think we're making progress."

One of the things that will get a lot of attention this week is the noise factor playing a game in Starkville. With the fans able to ring cowbells at specific times of the game Chizik said it will obviously have an impact but they won't treat it any different than other road games in the league.

"Every place is really, really loud in the league and every place has its challenges," Chizik said. "We don't really think of that any different with the noise factor. We'll just prepare like we always do. Every week we have some noise days or day usually to get prepared for that. I don't think that's really going to be an issue."

It won't be just noise that will be a factor for the Tigers though as defensively coach Ted Roof will have his hands full with an attack that is much stronger through the air this time around. Chizik said it's a much different MSU team than the one Auburn faced last season.

"It is tremendous looking," Chizik said. "It looks like night and day compared to when we played them this time a year ago. They are using two quarterbacks and both of them are very comfortable and confident. They've got some very good running backs. Their offensive line looks really good. They are throwing it and running it at will right now. They had 560 yards of offense against Memphis. They are a very good offense."

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