AUBURN – Some were part of an Auburn team that won 11 games in 2006. Some came in the months after that season ended. Whenever they arrived, almost two dozen seniors are nearing the end of their Auburn football experience.
Cornerbacks coach Phillip Lolley
Saturday, when Chattanooga (5-3) visits Jordan-Hare Stadium to play the No. 2 Tigers (9-0) for homecoming, the seniors will be honored in pregame ceremonies. They’ll play their last home game a week later against Georgia.
The senior class of 2010 has seen the highs and the lows. Nothing was lower than a 5-7 season in 2008. And nothing has been higher than a 9-0 run into national championship contention this season.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik said they will get a well-deserved salute.
“I think it’s extremely special,” Chizik said after Tuesday’s practice. “They are going to realize probably when it’s all over, not only is this the last homecoming but this week and next week will be the last times they will ever play at Jordan-Hare Stadium. I think it will be emotional for a lot of them. I think it’s a very special time. I think they will always remember that. They’ll have a lot of friends and family here.”
PLEASED WITH PRACTICE: Chizik said he was pleased with the Tigers’ two days of heavy work in preparation for Chattanooga and beyond.
“I thought it was really two good days of practice,” Chizik said. “I thought we focused. Again, we really tried to work on the little things that will make us a better team.”
WHITE READY TO HELP: Freshman cornerback Ryan White played in an Auburn football game for the first time in last Saturday’s 51-31 victory at Ole Miss, giving up a redshirt season after eight games.
Cornerbacks coach Phillip Lolley said injuries made the move necessary. White played quarterback early in preseason camp before moving to cornerback. Once the season started, he spent most of his practice time as the scout team quarterback.
“Having the year we had, it was still a very difficult decision,” Lolley said. “I talked to him, talked to his dad. The season we are having and the problem we’ve had with injuries, we had to have somebody athletic enough to help play the guys in this league. He’s the guy.”
Lolley said he believes White is ready to compete and win.
“As a defensive back coach, you have to feel that way,” Lolley said. “I’m confident in all my young men. You have to be. It’s tough out there against the athletes you face this day and time. You go against some of the best athletes in the world.
“We talk about if you play defensive back here, look at the ones that have come through here. We have a whole wall of pretty good ones down there. We refer to it if you play here and play defensive back, the challenge to living up to some of the others is there, plus you play against some of the best receivers in the country. That’s why you sign here.”
MOCS CAN THROW IT: Chattanooga’s passing game, Chizik said, will offer a challenge in Saturday’s game.
Quarterback B.J. Coleman has passed for 2,257 yards and 21 touchdowns while throwing 12 interceptions. Joel Bradford has caught 66 passes for 1,027 yards and seven touchdowns.
“It’s a lot of play-action, a lot of quick game,” Chizik said. “It’s an extremely effective throwing game. The quarterback and receivers are right on the same page. You can tell that. They execute it extremely well. It’s nothing we haven’t seen.”
STICKS AND STONES: Senior offensive tackle Lee Ziemba, like every college athletes, is an avid ESPN watcher. When he hears commentators question Auburn’s credentials as a national championship contender, he shrugs it off.
“I know they don’t know much about who we are, what we do have, what we don’t have,” Ziemba said. “They sit on a TV set all day. They don’t know. I’m a part of it, so I know what we do have and what we don’t have.
“I think our strength of schedule is one of the best in the country. If we keep winning, that’s all we can do. It doesn’t bother me.”