AUBURN – Being No. 1 in the Bowl Championship Series standings is another challenge for Auburn’s unbeaten football team, second-year coach Gene Chizik said Tuesday.
Mario Fannin's job is safe
Rankings and standings are not a subject of discussion within the Auburn football team, Chizik said. But the No. 1 beside Auburn’s name is certainly the discussion outside of the Auburn Football Complex.
“They hear it, they see it,” Chizik said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “There is no getting away from it. The maturity of the young man definitely plays a part. It’s challenging.
“I’m just proud of our football team and that we’ve found ways to win every week,” Chizik said. “We can be happy with the results, but we shouldn’t be happy with where we are. We are still in search of trying to play a game for four quarters, but I’m very proud of our team. I think they’ve grown as a football team. Right now, (being No. 1) just really doesn’t matter.”
Opponents read it and hear it, too. And they raise their games as a result, Chizik said. He expects more of that when the Tigers (8-0, 5-0) play Ole Miss (3-4, 1-3) at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in oxford on Saturday.
“I don’t think there is any question,” Chizik said. “Everybody reads it, everybody sees it and everybody hears it. We fully expect to get everybody’s best shot, not that we didn’t four weeks ago. We fully expect that. That’s what makes it fun.”
More from Chizik’s press conference:
On Ole Miss QB Jeremiah Masoli: “He’s extremely, extremely talented, extremely dangerous with his arm and his ability to make things happen with his feet. A lot of the plays you see where he’s extremely effective, it’s breaking the pocket and getting out in space. He does a lot of things extremely well.
On whether Mario Fannin will continue to play despite fumbles
“Absolutely. We are right there with him. We need Mario for us to win. No question about it. I could turn on the film and show you a lot of guys that made mistakes. As a whole team, we’ve all made mistakes. We are sticking with our guys.”
On whether there will be changes on punt returns
“We’ve got the order set and the people we believe can return punts for us if something happens with (Quindarius Carr). We are prepared to do what we have to do and play the best guy. Right now, I don’t anticipate there being any significant changes, but we are always prepared.”
On H-back Eric Smith
“We challenged him a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t feel like he was playing near up to the potential he should be. I think I’ve seen significant change in the way he plays. I just didn’t feel like he was being as physical as he needed to be.”
On whether being undefeated makes it more fun to come to work
“I enjoy every day I come here. I did the same thing today I did a month ago. I’ll go home and do the same thing I did two months ago. I’m just blessed to get up every day and come to work here.”