Lolley said it has been a fun experience to see Gene Chizik back in his element once again as the Tigers take on the Cavaliers at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
“I've worked with him before,” Lolley said. “I know exactly what to expect. He's always a great teacher, always motivated.
"The whole team sees that he loves to coach," Lolley said. "The head coach role is different. You can tell he's missed being out there and being in the battle.”
It has been five years since Chizik has been on the sidelines as a coordinator and that means none of the current players at Auburn know him as anything other than a head coach. Lolley said it didn’t take long for the guys on Auburn’s defense to see that when Chizik is on the field as a defensive coordinator he means business.
“They’ve responded just like the old group did before,” Lolley said. “They now see when he was a coordinator the enthusiasm and excitement that he brings to the field. He’s serious, serious, serious. He makes sure everybody is accountable on every play to what they are teaching and coaches, what we’re teaching.
"Plus these young men now know that it’s not just me they have to answer to, but also the head guy and the defensive coordinator. He is very challenging in what he expects.”
With T’Sharvan Bell out until next season with a knee injury, Lolley goes into the bowl game with true sophomore Chris Davis as the most experienced cornerback on the roster. With fellow sophomore Ryan White, redshirt freshman Jonathon Mincy, and true freshmen Jermaine Whitehead and Robenson Therezie at his disposal Lolley said he’s seen the group take a step forward during bowl practices and along with the rest of the team he’s looking for better play on New Year’s Eve.
“They’ve improved, they really have,” Lolley said. “That has been our goal throughout is to get this young team to a point. We wanted to see how many teams this young team could have when this year was over and how we progressed as a football team. We played so many challenging teams during the year that we’ve had to get better as a team.
"Our young guys have had some growing pains," the coach added. "We can still keep improving. That has been our goal this whole time. This is the first game of the new year so let’s see how far we can come.”
As for how much the defense can improve from week 12 until the bowl game? The only way to find out is to kick things off Saturday night at 7:30 EST and see what happens. As for Lolley he said he feels like the defense is determined to play well for Chizik and see if they can get win number eight.
“There’s no doubt about it,” Lolley said. “The guys are really working hard to please him because they have seen his enthusiasm. That’s contagious.”
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