AUBURN – Gene Chizik, Auburn’s second-year coach, knows what it’s going to be like for his players. Fellow students and townspeople will shake their hands, pat them on their backs and just want to be seen with them.
Auburn football players are the toast of the town. After all, they are ranked No. 3 in the nation in both major polls, the only unbeaten team in the Southeastern Conference. They beat then-No. 6 LSU 24-17 on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
But Chizik knows also that the job is far from done. The Tigers (8-0, 5-0) travel to Ole Miss (3-4, 1-3) on Saturday. After that there’ll be a homecoming game against Chattanooga and then Georgia and Alabama.
“I can only control how we proceed in this building,” Chizik said Sunday. “We just had a team meeting. We talked about staying grounded, that every week is a different week and a different opportunity. Hopefully, they will continue to prepare like they have every week.”
Though the Tigers are on a roll unlike any since the perfect season of 2004, they have been faced tense and emotional finishes virtually every week. There is still, Chizik said, much to be done.
“I think you could look at the whole perspective of everything, and we haven’t played our best game yet,” Chizik said. “We are still in search of that. If they will look at the film and really evaluate themselves accurately, there shouldn’t be any need to beat their chests, in my opinion.”
More from Chizik’s meeting with reporters:
On promoting QB Cam Newton and the Heisman Trophy
“In my opinion, a player’s statistics and all the things that go into him warranting that attention is out there for everybody to see. Do we have a guy that warrants that? Absolutely. … It is a team award. He’s a great football player. He does a lot of things on his own, makes guys miss, make plays. But at the end of the day it’s a team award. The best thing we can for any of our guys is to give them a plan to win very week.”
On whether DT Nick Fairley also should be considered for national awards
“I don’t think there is any way you can say he isn’t. The numbers speak for themselves. Anybody who watched the game yesterday would have a hard time denying he is one of the best defensive linemen in the country. He makes an impact on a lot of games and he has been doing that consistently all year.”
On the status of injured LB Daren Bates
“I don’t know yet.”
On CB Neiko Thorpe playing with his left arm in a cast
“I was really proud of him. He was playing in kind of an uncomfortable situation. He was beat up, and he played well. He played with confidence.”
On LSU punts being downed inside the 5
“That was a very significant part of the game. I think we could have done a much better job of keeping ourselves out of bad field position. That was disappointing to see. We are going to address that. We can’t operate like that. That was a special teams nightmare.”