Tigers Putting In Game Plan For Iron Bowl

Comments from offensive and defensive players are featured along with news and notes as the Auburn football team continues preparations for Saturday's Iron Bowl game in Tuscaloosa.

Auburn, Ala.--One of Auburn's players who is expected to be heavily involved in Saturday's Iron Bowl will be participating in the football rivalry game that he has only watched on TV.

Jay Prosch, a transfer fullback from Mobile via the University of Illinois where he played for two seasons, has been taking a larger role in Auburn's offensive game plans in recent weeks.

"It would be a huge accomplishment for me to be able to be able to help our team win the game," said Prosch, who scored his second touchdown of the season last week.

Prosch and the Tigers are trying to end a disappointing season with what would be a major upset of Alabama, which comes into the contest with a 10-1 record. The Tide needs a victory to assure itself a spot in the SEC Championship Game opposite the Georgia Bulldogs next week.

In contrast, the Tigers are 3-8 overall and are trying to avoid going winless in the SEC for the first time since the 1980 football season.

Asked what the team's attitude has been this week, the junior fullback told Inside the Auburn Tigers, "Everybody is excited and pumped up. There is a lot of emotion with this being the last game for the seniors. On top of that it is the Iron Bowl and it is important to us to finish strong. There are a lot of things we are trying to do this week.

"We are practicing as hard as we can and when the game gets here we want to go out there and give it all we have," said Prosch, whose Tigers worked out for approxmiately two hours on Tuesday night after spending time in meetings in the morning and afternoon. "We want to let it all hang out.

"I can't wait to play in the game," he added. "I watched all of the time growing up. It was one of those games where everybody gets together and you cook out and watch the game, which is the biggest game of the year."

Jay Prosch transferred to Auburn, his childhood favorite team, in January.

Prosch noted the focus for the offense is putting together a strong performance for all four quarters. "That is something we are really working on," he said. "We are trying to get on top of that."

If Auburn is going to have success moving the football on Saturday, the Tigers will need to get good performance from quarterback Jonathan Wallace. The true freshman is making his fourth college start and his first start in a road game.

"So far he has impressed me as being mentally tough," Prosch said of Wallace. "Physically, he puts in the time and effort to be a success."

Like Prosch, Saturday's game will be the first Iron Bowl that Wallace has attended. "It is a pretty good position to be in," said Wallace, who at this time last year was preparing for a 6A state playoff game while at Central High in Phenix City. "It really is a blessing, I must say. I am very excited."

Jonathan Wallace

Wallace noted that he "always watched" the Tigers play the Tide when he was growing up. He added that he didn't have a root interesting until he got to high school and began to favor the Tigers.

Auburn didn't start recruiting him seriously until the summer before his senior year when they invited him to campus for a multi-day camp. Wallace was impressive, but with the Tigers already having quarterback Zeke Pike committed there was no scholarship offer made for Wallace at that time.

However, Auburn continued to keep the quarterback on the recruiting radar, even after he committed to Southern Miss. When that coaching staff changed, he re-evaluated his college choice and took an offer from Central Florida. During that time the Tigers continued to stay in contact with him and told Wallace they still could make an offer. That finally happened just before signing day. "I really couldn't pass it up," he said of the chance to play for Auburn."

Commenting on being a starting quarterback in the Iron Bowl, he, "Playing in this game is something I have always wanted to do growing up. Now that I am in this position, I think it is going to be a lot of fun."

With this being his first road start, one of the focuses in practice this week for the Tigers is managing the offense in a noisy environment. "It is just a matter of keeping your composure, staying poised and not letting it get to you," the quarterback said. "It is going to be very loud there. They have a very big stadium and very loud fans. You have just got to play around it."

Jonathan Wallace has completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 649 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions.

One of Auburn's most experienced players, Emory Blake, was on the team that won 28-27 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2010, the last time the Tigers traveled to Tuscaloosa.

"I think Wally (Wallace) is going to do good," Blake said on Tuesday. "He is a very poised quarterback. Not too many things shake him. I think he is going to be fine. He just needs to get in there and do what he does best."

Emory Blake leads the Tigers in receptions and receiving yardage with 47 receptions for 744 yards this season.

Blake said that the Tide has an impressive defense. "The guys up front are strong and are great run stoppers. The linebackers are strong, the secondary is strong, but I feel like there are some things here or there we see on film that we can execute on and hopefully come up with some explosive plays.

"The number one thing is we can't turn the ball over," the senior added. "We have to be efficient and move the ball steadily, and also make some big plays."

Blake is one of just three Auburn offensive players who have started every game this year along with offensive linemen Chad Slade and John Sullen. The Tigers have started 11 different offensive lineups in 11 games and 10 different defensive starting lineups.

One of the team's more experienced defensive players, end Nosa Eguae, said that Alabama will bring a strong offensive line to Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday afternoon. "They are good players," he said. "I have played against those guys pretty much for two years now."

Auburn's best defensive game of the year came against LSU, a team that runs a similar style offense as Alabama. Asked what it would take for the Tigers to match the defensive effort put forth vs. LSU, Eguae said, "It is going to take preparation on that practice field every single day getting ready for Saturday. We know what is at stake Saturday. It is a big game for us. We are trying to make sure these seniors don't leave with a sour taste in their mouth, but they leave with a victory."

Eguae noted that from playing in Tuscaloosa that he can feel "the hatred" Tide fans have for their archrival. He added that he doesn't mind. "You feel what has been brewing for 365 days and it is nice," he said. "We definitely take the challenge and we all look forward to it."

Auburn worked on the game plan on Tuesday evening in a session in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts. The Tigers also practiced on Monday, their normal day off, taking advantage of no classes this week to get in extra preparation time before heading to Tuscaloosa on Saturday. The Tigers will also work out on campus both Wednesday and Thursday.

Tigers Vs. Tide, Iron Bowl History: Saturday's game will be Auburn's ninth appearance in Tuscaloosa. The Tigers have a 7-1 mark vs. the Tide in games there. Auburn has a 7-4 lead in games played vs. Alabama in Auburn. Alabama has a 36-20-1 advantage in games played in Birmingham and each team won twice when the game was played in Montgomery.

Tide Kicker On Target: Alabama's Jeremy Shelley is a perfect 10-10 on field goals this season, but has not attempted any long kicks in 2012. His season longest is 38 yards and half of his kicks have been from 20-29 yards.

Tide Tough With Turnovers: Alabama's defense has forced 24 turnovers and is ranked 13th nationally in turnover margin at plus 1.09 gained per game. The Tide has converted those 24 turnovers into 132 points while giving up just 24 points on the 12 turnovers it has made through 11 games.

TV Coverage: The Iron Bowl kickoff on Saturday's game is set for shortly after 2:30 p.m. CST on CBS. Verne Lundquist will do the play by play, Gary Danielson is the analyst and Tracy Wolfson is the sideline reporter.

Radio Coverage: In addition to the Auburn Network coverage around the region, the game will be broadcast on Sirius Channel 135 and XM Channel 204.

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