Saban preps Tigers for tough road test

Neyland Stadium, the monstrous site for Saturday night's game between LSU and Tennessee at 6:45 p.m., will likely be the toughest environment for the Tigers since their 41-9 road loss to Florida last Oct. 7. LSU head coach Nick Saban, who has long preached the importance of playing well on the road, has made that the central theme for his players this week.

"It's always more fun to go into somebody else's place and be able to be a dominant team, and to win a game, than it is to win at home," Saban said during his weekly press luncheon. "That's something that we have not experienced, and it's something that we need to continue to work to try to experience as a team. If we're going to have success as a team, it's something that we're going to have to be able to do."

The players, who were particularly spirited during most of last week's practices, appear ready to take on the challenge after waiting to play for two straight weeks.

"Tennessee would be a good place to win a game," said receiver Josh Reed. "We can be successful if we pay close attention to detail and have a really good practice week."

A few hours later, the Tigers hit the practice fields for their third session of preparation for the Volunteers. Because of the odd circumstances of the last two weeks (LSU's 21-day layoff will mark the longest stretch between games since 1907, according to an LSU press release), the Tigers started looking at their opponent during two practices over the weekend.

"It's time to strap it up and go out there," linebacker Bradie James said with excitement. "It's time to go out there and show everybody what we're made of. I'm sure this will be a ‘respect' game."

Quarterback Rohan Davey was not at Monday's practice because of a delay in his flight to Baton Rouge from Miami. Davey had gone home over the weekend to tend to a personal matter.

At practice Monday afternoon, three players — tight end Robert Royal, safety Brandon Williams and cornerback Robert Davis — did not participate. Saban said Royal's injury is minor and expects Royal to be ready for Saturday. Williams, a freshman who patrolled the sidelines on crutches and an ankle brace, is not expected to play. Davis injured his right knee Sept. 8 against Utah State; his status for Tennessee is up in the air.

"He did run last week and he's running ok," Saban said. "I can't say that he'll be able to play this week and I can't say that he won't be."

Defensive ends Jarvis Green and Kenderick Allen practiced in red no-contact jerseys Monday. Saban said their injuries are also minor and that the two should be ready this weekend.

An early forecast for Saturday says temperatures in Knoxville, Tenn., could possibly reach the 50s by kickoff. The treatment from Tennessee fans will be just as cold.

"It's a big atmosphere," said center Rob Sale. "But 107,000 isn't much more than 91,000. You can't tell the difference."

James has played in eight road games since he arrived at LSU, which has lost seven of them during the same span. Now a veteran, James said he will tell his younger teammates to focus on the playing field, not the stands.

"This is league play," James said. "Everybody's just as big as you are and just as talented. Those guys are going to be getting after it, and you can believe that we left a bitter taste in their mouth when they left here last year."

Despite last season's 38-31 upset win in Baton Rouge, LSU has opened as a 9½-point underdog to the seventh-ranked Vols. Saban said that should give his team extra incentive to prove its worth in the Smokey Mountains.

"We really don't feel like we have the respect that we deserve," James said. "But after a game like this, you should gain a whole lot of respect."

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