Auburn has a roster full of freshmen who have never played in the Iron Bowl.
But the rest of the Tigers are making sure the younger players get up to speed quickly.
“I’m not even from Alabama, and being here for just one year, I hate Alabama,” Corey Lemonier said.
Auburn’s a 21-point underdog to Alabama this season, a deficit that seems eye-popping to most. But the Tigers are not focused on the underdog role.
“I’m a competitor, and the last time I checked, this game hasn’t been played yet,” nose tackle Jeffrey Whitaker said.
With no classes this week, Auburn has extra time to focus on the Iron Bowl, and the players, to a man, have said the extra time has been spent watching film of the Crimson Tide and trying to pick up any extra details.
In the words of Whitaker, this is the state’s Super Bowl.
“We respect each other a lot,” tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen said. “But we dislike each other a lot.”
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- Lemonier followed up his statement of hate towards Alabama by saying he didn’t even like the Crimson Tide during the recruiting process.
- Lutzenkirchen said that Alabama’s defense is good, but the offense feels like there are some places Auburn can attack the Crimson Tide. “We’ve found some things we think we can take advantage of,” Lutzenkirchen said. “Coach Malzahn’s one of the best in the business at finding other team’s tendencies.”
- Lutzenkirchen said Alabama’s LB’s will be a big challenge. Literally. Most are the same size or bigger than Lutzenkirchen, and both Courtney Upshaw and Dante Hightower are finalists for the Butkus Award, annually given to the nation’s top linebacker.
- Without classes, Auburn’s football players have a whole new level of preparation this week. “I’ve been told that Iron Bowl week is the closest we get to the NFL, because of the extra time.”
- Asked about whether or not Alabama corner Dre Kirkpatrick is a talker on the field, wide receiver Emory Blake said he doesn’t know. “I’ve never been up against him in a 1-on-1 situation.”
- More than a few Auburn defensive players have talked about the importance of gang-tackling Alabama’s running backs, who have not had a carry longer than nine yards in the last two Iron Bowls. “Everybody’s at the ball, everybody’s wrapping up, making tackles,” linebacker Daren Bates said.
- Bates, a big hitter who has sometimes struggled to bring people to the ground because he’s going for the big hit, has been much better lately. He had 12 tackles against Samford. “Not ducking my head and wrapping up. How to be disciplined, do the right things.”
- John Sullen said the Iron Bowl rivalry is personal for his family. “My family is split right down the middle. I have a cousin that went to Alabama, and we don’t talk to them this week.”
- Springing Mike Dyer free is a big source of motivation for Auburn this week. “With me playing on the offensive line, I take it as a personal thing that we want Mike (Dyer) to rush from more than Trent,” Sullen said.
- Likewise, the defensive tackles are ready to face off against an Alabama line that drew heavy praise from Gene Chizik in Tuesday’s press conference. “When you play nose guard or the 3-technique, that’s what you want,” Whitaker said.