Tigers Game-Planning for Gamecocks

Zach Clayton

A report on Auburn's Wednesday evening football practice features comments from Gene Chizik and others.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn returned to the football practice field on Wednesday night with the emphasis on the offensive and defensive game plans for Saturday night's SEC game vs. South Carolina.

The Tigers practiced for two hours in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts and Coach Gene Chizik said it was a solid followup to Tuesday's night practice that was one of the most physical of the season.

"I think we have had two pretty sharp days," Chizik said after the practice. "It is going to be a situation where we have to improve in a lot of areas to be able to beat this team."

Auburn and South Carolina are both 3-0 going into Saturday's game and both are ranked in the Top 20 nationally. "Practice went well," the head coach said. "Luckily we have another tomorrow."

On Tuesday Chizik challenged his team to be more physical and put the Tigers through a three-hour workout with the emphasis on lots of contact, especially for the linemen.

The coach said he thought his team responded positively in that practice, but added, "They just have to understand as we move into SEC play it is just a whole different ball game. There is no way we can continue to play like we have played up front, on both sides of the ball and other areas of well--even on the perimeter--and expect to win these physical games in the league. That was my message was yesterday."

Senior defensive tackle Zach Clayton said he is looking forward to the challenge of playing the Gamecocks. "They are a very physical team and they have very good running backs,"?he said. "They are going to be a very tough team to beat."

A key player for Clayton and his teammates to try to slow will be freshman tailback Marcus Lattimore, who is averaging 111 yards rushing per game. Lattimore was a main reason the Gamecocks defeated Georgia in their SEC opener. "He is a very dynamic back," the Auburn senior said. "He is very good at making cuts, finding the right holes and running upfield hard and strong."

Marcus Lattimore

Because Lattimore has been challenging for one defender to bring down, Clayton said the Auburn defense needs to focus on its tackling on Saturday night in addition to trying to force more turnovers. Through three games the Tigers only have one fumble recovery and one interception. "We haven't had a lot of turnovers so I think that is something we are going to focus on a lot this week," the senior said.

In other news:

*Chizik said after Wednesday's practice that there is no real change in the health status of Trovon Reed, who is trying to get over his kneecap injury. The freshman made his debut vs. Clemson and rushed for eight yards on two carries from the wildcat formation, but Reed said earlier this week he is about 80 percent of full speed.

*Chizik said that Brandon Mosley and John Sullen continue to compete for the starting right tackle spot. He said a decision on who will start this week hasn't been made yet. He said there is a possibility the Tigers will play two guys at the position, but he would prefer just one to build chemistry with right guard Byron Isom.

Jeff Grimes, who coaches the offensive line, said he hasn't decided yet on how he will play the linemen, but he noted that it is a plus that both guys have seen prime-time action with the first team in games.

*Roszell Gayden, juco transfer who was expected to compete for the starting right tackle spot, is injured and may redshirt, but Chizik said it is too early to make that decision.

*Grimes and the offensive line stayed after practice and did extra work to prepare for South Carolina. The coach said that he is taking it as a personal challenge to get the linemen playing with a more physical style and he hopes the linemen have the same attitude.

*Another player who is out with an injury, freshman fullback Ladarious Phillips, is not ready to play yet with his ankle injury.

*Wide receiver coach Trooper Taylor said he has challenged his players to be more physical. He said he likes what he has seen this week. "I was impressed with the way they came out and responded," Taylor said.

*Safeties coach Tommy Thigpen said he liked the aggressiveness he saw out of his players in the Clemson game and noted it was their best outing of the season.

*The South Carolina game will be televised by both ESPN and ESPN 3D. Brad Nessler will do the play by play for the ESPN telecast with Todd Blackledge as the analyst and Holly Rowe the sideline reporter. For the 3D telecast the same crew for the Auburn-Clemson game returns with Joe Tessitore handling the play by play, Tim Brown is the analyst and Tom Luginbill will be the sidelines reporter.

*The game will also be carried on XM Channel 198.

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