By Jay Coulter
If you’re worried about this weekend’s game with Vanderbilt, you’re not alone. As we learned Saturday, anybody in the SEC can be beaten on a given day. Coming down from the high of the Florida win is going to be a huge challenge this week for Auburn coaches and players.
Combine that with the numerous injuries that Auburn is trying to overcome and you have all the ingredients for an upset. Add in the early start time that for some reason doesn’t agree with the Tigers and we all have reason to watch Vanderbilt closely.
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville agrees.
"Vanderbilt is much improved," said Tuberville. "I'm sure they are fired up after watching the way we played. One of the biggest challenges you have in sports is after you have something good happen to you, bouncing back and being hungry to make things happen.
"We challenged our players. We didn't have a great practice (Tuesday).
"We did a few extra things to make sure we had their attention because sometime you tend to think about things that happened 72 hours ago or more. A lot of things are in front of the coaching staff this week. It's not our first time winning a big game. Our coaches know how to get a team prepared. We will be prepared," said Tuberville.
The Commodores come into Saturday’s contest with a 3-1 record including a conference win over Ole Miss. Their only defeat came against Alabama in week two, a 24-10 loss that was closer than the score indicated.
Their superstar is wide receiver Earl Bennett, who will become the all-time leading receiver in SEC history before the season is over. The Birmingham native is the real deal and can make the big catches.
They also have a pretty good quarterback in Chris Nickson. Vandy scores quickly. They have only one scoring drive over five minutes this season.
And here’s something interesting: The Commodores average starting field position is its own 42 yard line.
There’s not much new to report on the injury front today. Left tackle King Dunlap and right guard Mike Berry are practicing again, but it’s unlikely they’ll be getting their starting jobs back anytime soon. Still, it’s nice to have a little more depth.
Tuberville said on Tuesday that the injury situation is getting serious.
"One thing that we are concerned about is we have had a lot of bad luck this year in terms of injuries," said Tuberville. "We have persevered. Our coaches have done a good job of getting younger players ready to play, but it's getting to the point now that it’s getting pretty serious with all the injuries and guys that are out half speed, three quarters speed not being able to practice its hard to improve when you don't have guys out here practicing.
"As I have said, this is a team sport. Guys don't just come out there for a couple days during the week and get ready to play on Saturday. You have got to be intense. You have got to be into it, and it's getting to the point that it's really serious. We don't have the depth that we had earlier in the year.
"You look at Saturday night on their last drive, our defense went out on the field. Half of them were second-teamers that went out there and stopped them. That's good, but now second-teamers are going to be starters and who is going to be behind them? Nobody, because we don't have the depth," Tuberville said.
Don’t be surprised to see LSU shut Tim Tebow down this weekend in Baton Rouge. Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp appears to have cracked the code on how to stop Tebow.
Saturday night in Gainesville, Muschamp kept his tackles at the line of scrimmage rather than rushing them. He then sent the defensive ends around the corners and pushed Tebow to the middle, making it virtually impossible for him to run. Look for LSU to mimic this Saturday night.