The Auburn football team put the disappointment of Saturday’s loss to LSU away on Tuesday and shifted their attention to what promises to be another tough, physical contest when Tennessee pays a visit to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Tommy Tuberville held his weekly press conference and says he’s pleased with the way his team has rebounded from Saturday night, but realizes there are a lot of mistakes to correct. “We’ve had two good practices,” said Tuberville. “The practice this morning (Tuesday) went very well. We’ve got good leadership, but there are a lot of things that we have to improve on.
“In order to be successful in this game of football, you’ve got to understand that and you’ve got to work toward it every day and we’re trying to do that. There are some things that we’ll adjust on both sides of the ball and on special teams. We’ve got to improve in all those and we’ve got to understand that probably in three weeks, we’ll still need to improve.”
When the Tigers welcome Tennessee (1-2) to town they’ll be looking at a team that is very similar to their own. The Volunteers are adjusting to a new offensive coordinator in Dave Clawson. So far, the results have been mixed at best. Like Auburn, they are struggling with their new quarterback, Jonathan Crompton. The junior quarterback has completed just a little more than half of all his passes this season.
The Volunteers struggled on third down conversions in Saturday’s home loss to Florida, converting only 4 of 14 attempts. Look for that trend to continue on Saturday. The Auburn defense ranks first nationally in stopping third down conversions, allowing just 11.4 percent.
Tuberville says the fact that both teams are coming off losses doesn’t diminish the importance of this old rivalry. “Tennessee got off to a slow start, as we all know,” he said. “Their team is a lot like ours in that they’ve had a change in offense, a change in offensive coordinators, a new quarterback and they’ve had some set backs, but they’re still Tennessee.
“They’re a proud football team that plays very hard. When we play them, it’s always a very physical game. We both understand that, going into this game, both teams have a loss in the conference and both teams will have to play hard to try to stay out of the loss column again, because both teams are very similar in terms of programs and how things have gone.”
The biggest challenge for Auburn this weekend might be themselves. Coming off two physical SEC games, depth will play a big role in who comes out on top. Tuberville says how you cope with these long stretches of SEC games determines what kind of football team you have in the end. “It’s tough,” he says. “They’re all physical. This one is going to by physical this week and then we go play another physical game next week. They’re all physical. I’ve always said that the teams who can survive and have the depth on defense are the ones that are going to consistently win games.
“We’ve got a little depth, but it’s chipping away. It was our fourth game and most of our defense had to play a majority of the game. It’ll start chipping away as you go through the year. The younger guys start filling in another row and they’ve got to be successful and if they’re not, then your execution is going to fall.”
Kickoff is set for Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. CT from Pat Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The contest will be televised by CBS.