Sept. 3, 2009
AUBURN, Ala. -
The Auburn football team held its final practice prior to the 2009 season opener against Louisiana Tech, practicing for about an hour and a half at the practice fields behind the Athletics Complex.
Thursday's workout was a situational practice in shorts and helmets with no contact, as the Tigers went over final preparations for Saturday's game. The squad went through every aspect of special teams and did more scout team preparation, before concluding with a two-minute drill.
The Tigers will go through a short walk-through on Friday before hosting Louisiana Tech on Saturday in the season opener for both teams.
Auburn is 10-0-1 all-time against Louisiana Tech, but the Bulldogs are coming off an 8-5 season that was capped by a 17-10 victory over Northern Illinois in the Independence Bowl. A total of 17 starters (nine offense, seven defense, one specialist) return from that squad.
The last time these two teams met was during Auburn's undefeated 2004 season, and the Tigers rolled to a 52-7 victory in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Earlier this week during his Tuesday press conference, head coach Gene Chizik explained why Louisiana Tech should pose a much greater challenge this year.
"Coach (Derek) Dooley has done a great job with Louisiana Tech in two short years," said Chizik. "They went to a bowl game and they won the first bowl game that they probably have won in the last 20, 30 years. They were 8-5 in a really good league. They beat Mississippi State, an SEC team. They beat Fresno State, who typically is a good football team year in and year out, and they won their bowl game.
"This football team is really good, and then you compound that with the fact that they are returning nine starters on offense and seven starters on defense. Last year on special teams they were probably in the top two in the nation with their starting returner coming back. So, this is a great challenge."
Louisiana Tech's offense is led by senior running back Daniel Porter, who was named to the Doak Walker Award watch list after rushing for 1,164 yards and nine touchdowns last season, and junior wideout Phillip Livas, who caught 43 passes last season and has four career kick returns for touchdowns.
The Bulldog defense ranked 13th in the nation in rushing defense last season, allowing just 103.8 yards per game. Senior free safety Antonio Baker led the team with 115 tackles last season while earning first team All-WAC honors.
Saturday's season opener against Louisiana Tech will kick off at 6 p.m. CT from Jordan-Hare Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPNU.